Crime & Courts

South Carolina Man Sentenced In Child Pornography, Exploitation Case

Pickens man gets a decade behind bars …

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There was a recent dust-up on this news outlet’s social media pages regarding the proper terminology to use in reporting on cases involving child pornography. The points raised by during that discussion were interesting. Illuminating, even (what can we say … smart people read our stuff).

The word “pornography” certainly has connotations for most reasonable adults – like, for starters, that they will be viewing images or videos of other reasonable adults engaging in permissible, consensual activities.

Indeed, there are disclaimers and custodians of records attesting to the provenance of such things … err, or so I’ve been told.

“Child porn” certainly doesn’t align with these connotations because children, by definition, cannot legally consent to participate in such activities. They are by definition impermissible. Which makes the commission of these acts more “exploitation” – or abuse – than “porn.”

One viewer suggested we use the term “child exploitation materials” as opposed to “child porn.” My response to that? I hear the term “child exploitation materials” and my brow furrows. I hear the term “child porn” and I pick up a baseball bat looking for someone to hit.

There’s a good middle ground somewhere … and we’re committed to finding it in our reporting.

Anyway … while we debate diction, the office of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs of South Carolina announced the sentencing of 63-year-old Matthew Leon Arotin of Pickens, S.C. to ten years in prison after he pleaded guilty to what her office termed a “child pornography offense.” Specifically, “possession of child pornography.”

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A Pickens County sheriff’s office cruiser navigates a wet road during spring rains in April 2023. (Facebook)

According to the federal release, Pickens County sheriff’s office deputies “received a cyber tip that child sexual abuse material was uploaded to a Google account.” Investigators quickly connected this account to an internet protocol (IP) address “associated with Arotin.”

Deputies obtained a search warrant for Arotin’s home, learning in the process he was a registered sex offender based on prior convictions. During the course of the search, “Arotin admitted he had various electronic devices and deputies would find inappropriate pictures of children on them,” according to the release.

“The devices were seized and forensically analyzed,” the release continued. “Law enforcement discovered 1,334 still images and 135 videos of child pornography. Fourteen of the images and six of the videos featured sexual abuse of an infant or toddler.”

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In addition to the ten years he received in federal prison (where there is no parole), Arotin was ordered to pay $68,000 in restitution to “the victims whose images he possessed.”

The case against Arotin was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiative launched in 2006 “to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.” Led by U.S. attorneys’ offices, the project utilizes “federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.”

In addition to the Pickens County sheriff’s office, agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assisted in this investigation. The charges against Arotin were prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorney Bill Watkins.

Whatever we agree to call these charges, props to the law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies who removed this creep from society (at least for the coming decade). Hopefully, news of his sentencing will serve as a disincentive to others inclined to try and obtain such abusive, exploitative child porn.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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