Federal government announces series of child pornography arrests in Indianapolis area

Arrests part of Project Safe Childhood initiative

INDIANAPOLIS - Three men face child sex-related charges in separate cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Authorities said Marvin Geraci, 67, of New Castle, molested two girls, ages 12 and 13, on multiple occasions. He was charged with two counts of transporting minors in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity.

“The complaint specifically alleges that he took the two girls on what were described as vacations to New Orleans and Daytona Beach,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “On these trips (Geraci) engaged in the criminal behavior.”

In a separate case, William Zeller, 59, of Indianapolis, faces charges of distribution and possession of child pornography and advertising child pornography.

“The complaint specifically alleges that Zeller used sophisticated techniques on video chat websites to portray himself as a young woman in order to lure young men into exposing themselves,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Raphael Bahena-Vidal, 50, of Indianapolis, faces three counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possession of child porn.

“Bahena-Vidal was first identified by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detective working in an undercover capacity,” federal officials said in a news release. “This detective was able to download child pornography from a computer in Bahena-Vidal’s residence on three occasions.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle Helart said Bahena-Vidal actively tried to cover up his activity.

"Mr. Behena(-Vidal) went to great lengths to hide his material," Helart said. "He kept his laptop in the washing machine, where they found it during the search warrant."

The arrests were part of the ongoing Project Safe Childhood initiative, which began six years ago to address crimes against children that are aided by technology.

“Over the last year as part of our Project Safe Childhood initiative, we’ve announced charges against dozens of individuals,” said U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett.

Sexual abuse and exploitation of young victims is one of the most under-reported crimes in America; experts say victims don't come forward because they don't want to see offenders get in trouble, or because they fear retribution for themselves or family.

"Ten to 15 percent of all sexual abuse is believed to be reported at any time," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brant Cook. "And of that number, much of that is not reported until years after the fact."

 

If convicted of the charges, the defendants could get sentences that would put them behind bars for decades. 

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