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San Diego rancher receives sentence for child pornography charges

SAN DIEGO — The operator of a Carmel Valley horse ranch was sentenced to 210 months in prison for possession and distribution of child pornography.

Christian Clews pleaded guilty in July but had remained free on bond. He was immediately taken into custody at the conclusion of today’s hearing.

During the hearing, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Renee Green told the court that a search of the defendant’s computer revealed over 800 images and 600 videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The content depicted children engaged in sexually explicit activity with adults and dogs.

And Green said Clews’ conduct was not limited to possession and distribution of child pornography, but also included repeated sexual victimization of minors for over two decades.

Green noted that the victims were intimidated for years and finally found the strength to come forward and talk to law enforcement about Clews.

Judge Sabraw described the case as “extraordinary” because Clews’ pattern of activity involved the abuse and exploitation of minors over the course of 25 years. The Court noted that individuals writing letters of support for Clews were likely “not informed” as to Clews’ true conduct in this case.

The Court described Clews as having “another side that’s very dark, very predatory, plain and simple.” Judge Sabraw described Clews’ behavior as a “longstanding campaign of predatory conduct,” wherein Clews used his position at the ranch to abuse vulnerable victims. In pronouncing his judgment, Judge Sabraw stated, “There has to be a consequence to that conduct; there has to be a day of accounting.”

The case was investigated by the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program is a national network representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, all working to combat the sexual exploitation of children through the internet.