Crime

Bradenton man charged with raping daughter, posting video on dark web

A Bradenton man is facing federal and state charges after a Homeland Security operation found he had posted a video of him raping his two-year-old daughter on the dark web, according to a federal indictment.

James Lockhart, 30, was arrested on Oct. 5 after agents searched his Bradenton home and found child pornography on his computer, including at least 10 images that depicted toddlers, according to authorities. He was later indicted on federal production and possession of child pornography charges.

Lockhart is currently being held without bond in federal custody at the Pinellas County jail.

His daughter and son, the girl’s twin, were placed in protective custody on the same day their father was arrested.

Lockhart, a licensed paramedic, was a paramedic and supervisor employed by Paramedics Logistics Florida, the parent company of Sunstar Paramedics, a private ambulance company in Pinellas County, since 2012. He was terminated in early October, according to Sunstar Chief Operating Officer John Peterson.

At the time he was hired, Lockhart had been cleared of any criminal history after undergoing a background check.

“We are fully cooperating with the federal and local law enforcement agencies in their investigation. Law enforcement has not indicated that patients were involved,” Peterson said. “If law enforcement indicates that patients were involved, we will make notifications in coordination with law enforcement.”

Homeland Security found the video after launching an investigation, dubbed “Operation Test Pilot,” during which agents infiltrated high-level child pornography rings and websites. Agents have identified multiple suspects believed to be living in and out of the United States, according to the indictment.

The dark web refers to a collection of websites that exist on an encrypted network and cannot be found using traditional web browsers, according to Tech Advisor, a website that provides advice about consumer technology.

Agents based in Boston working with foreign law enforcement began investigating videos, photos, forum posts and messages on the dark web left by someone using the screen names “StrangeWood” and “HardWood,” according to the indictment. Those screen names would eventually lead them to Lockhart.

A nearly 8-minute-long video of Lockhart raping his daughter was posted about a year ago by screen name “StrangeWood,” according to the indictment.

The indictment goes into graphic detail of how the toddler was sexually abused repeatedly. In addition to other child pornography, agents detail comments made by “StrangeWood” on the dark web in which he details his novice experiences with a girl and boy. He promised future postings and asked for suggestions, according to the indictment.

In September of this year, agents were able to trace “StrangeWood” through Kik Messenger, a messaging app, and then traced the IP address that Kik account was using to Lockhart. On Oct. 4, agents obtained a federal search warrant for Lockhart’s home in West Bradenton.

When Homeland Security agents showed up at Lockhart’s home just after 11 p.m. the next day, Lockhart’s wife and their children were home. Lockhart’s wife, who willingly spoke with agents, was shown images taken from the video with the toddler’s face blurred out but she instantly and without hesitation recognized her daughter, her husband’s hand, their couch and her daughter’s stuffed animal, according to the indictment.

Agents also compared the image of the hand in the video to Lockhart’s hand. They analyzed the indentation left by his wedding ring and the mole concealed by the ring, and determined it was the same hand. Samples of Lockhart’s handwriting found around the home were also compared to a handwritten sign seen in the video. Agents said there similarities, according to the indictment.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Lockhart is facing numerous charges at the state and federal levels. The sheriff’s office is working with Homeland Security to investigate Lockhart further and determine which charges will be filed at which level.

The sheriff’s office said Lockhart could face a charge of capital sexual battery, among other state charges.

You can follow Jessica De Leon on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.
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