A Fresno man who was part a California child exploitation ring in which members filmed themselves sexually abusing more than 20 children and then distributed the footage on the dark web was sentenced to life in prison Friday, prosecutors said.
What John Richard Brinson Jr. did to the children was "evil," Judge André Birotte Jr. said in Los Angeles federal court.
"I don’t know how else to say it," Birotte said.
Brinson, 28, pleaded guilty in July to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and four counts of production of child pornography, each representing a different victim.
"The life sentence imposed in this case is warranted by the defendant’s callous and violent abuse of children, some of whom were filmed while screaming in pain," U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement. "The child exploitation enterprise impacted more than 20 victims — children who were sexually assaulted, sometimes repeatedly, solely for the pleasure of this defendant and his cohorts."
Brinson distributed and advertised child exploitation materials in 2016 and 2017 on a website dedicated to sexual abuse of children up to 5 years old, prosecutors said. The site on the dark web allowed him to hide his identity and meet two of his co-defendants, Arlan Harrell of Hawthorne and Moises Martinez of San Jose.
Harrell and Martinez each separately brought children to Brinson’s home that they abused together while shooting child pornography video.
Harrell, who pleaded guilty to engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, obtaining custody of a minor for purposes of producing child pornography, production of child pornography and possession of child pornography, was sentenced to life in prison in February.
Martinez pleaded guilty to engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and production of child pornography and was sentenced to 55 years in prison.
Brinson’s roommate, Keith Lawniczak, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child. He let Brinson live in the house for free and admitted that he benefited by being able to watch the sexual abuse, according to court documents.