Madera County woman pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of children

A Madera County woman pleaded guilty Friday to aiding and abetting the production of child pornography.

Ashley Maddox, 32, came to the attention of law enforcement in June 2017 during a child pornography investigation of a man in Florida, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott announced in a news release.

“An examination of the Florida man’s electronic devices revealed that between November 2015 and April 2016, he and Maddox had communicated, via the internet and on their cellphones, about their mutual sexual interest in minors,” the news release continues.

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“Maddox requested that he send her images and video recordings that depicted the Florida man sexually abusing a prepubescent minor victim. Maddox received from him over 20 images and videos that depicted the minor victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Maddox also created and sent to this individual images and videos depicting a prepubescent minor.”

Maddox is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Drozd on Aug. 26 in Fresno. She faces between 15 and 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to a lifetime of supervised release.

“The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables,” the news release states.

How the case was investigated

This case is the product of an investigation by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, a federally and state-funded task force with agents from federal, state, and local agencies. It investigates online child exploitation crimes, including child pornography, enticement, and sex trafficking.

Homeland Security Investigations agents in Fresno and Fort Pierce, Florida, investigated the case. The Madera County Sheriff’s Office assisted early in the investigation.

Attorney Nadia Prinz of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa of the Eastern District of California are prosecuting the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. It uses federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

More information about Project Safe Childhood is available online at by clicking on the “resources” tab about internet safety education.

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge

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Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.