Sault Ste. Marie man sentenced to 50 years for sex crimes against minors

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – Duane Forrest of Sault Ste. Marie was sentenced to fifty years on Thursday for photographing and videotaping his sexual exploitation of two boys. Forrest has also been ordered to pay $10,200 in special assessments.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said, “The trauma of sexual abuse can last decades, even a lifetime.” Birge continued, “Mr. Forrest’s sentence reflects the seriousness of his crimes and the enduring harm caused when offenders record and preserve their abhorrent exploitation of minors in visual media. Thanks to a partnership between Homeland Security Investigations and Chippewa County, Mr. Forrest was caught and will never be able to victimize the young again.”

According to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Michigan:

In 2020, witnesses told law enforcement that Forrest had sexually abused two minors he had befriended. Police obtained a search warrant for Forrest’s home and found sexual pictures and videos of multiple children, including the two minors that witnesses had identified.

Federal and local authorities then jointly investigated the full scope of Forrest’s criminal activity. Forrest was charged federally for producing child pornography and eventually pled guilty. A federal charge related to his possession of child pornography that included images obtained on-line was dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement, but the court could still consider that conduct under federal
sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney sentenced him to 300 months (25 years) in prison for his exploitation of each of the victims. He ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, meaning Forrest’s total federal sentence is 50 years in prison.

Sheriff Michael Bitnar of Chippewa County commended the investigators who exposed
Forrest’s misconduct, saying, “The work these officers did brought justice to the young victims o
this crime. I am very proud of everyone involved in this investigation. There is nothing more
important than keeping our children safe from predators like Mr. Forrest.”

Forrest was also separately charged in state court and has pled guilty to a state criminal
sexual conduct offense, which encompasses additional unrecorded abuse. A sentencing hearing on
the state charge is scheduled for later this month.

This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect
children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor’s
offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal, and local law
enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who
exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about
the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more
information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following web site:
www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Individuals with information or concerns about possible child
exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

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