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A Billings man is facing federal child sexual exploitation charges, accused of talking a 15-year-old in Madison County into sending sexually explicit pictures of herself though Facebook on the Internet.

Joshua Allen Morgan, 27, was arrested Tuesday and appeared later that day on a criminal complaint before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby. He waived a preliminary hearing. The case will be presented to a grand jury for indictment.

Ostby ordered Morgan to remain in custody pending a detention hearing request.

The complaint accuses Morgan of persuading a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce pictures for interstate transportation. Because the girl is 15, the images are considered child pornography.

The crime carries a penalty of a minimum mandatory 15 to 30 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

According an affidavit by an FBI agent, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia City received a report on Aug. 5 from a parent who said Morgan might be traveling to Sheridan to meet with his 15-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old friend.

The daughter had met Morgan on the Internet and had been communicating with him for a few months. The girl reported that she had taken sexually explicit pictures of herself at Morgan’s urging and sent them to him using Facebook during the past three months.

Morgan portrayed himself as a 20-year-old man from Billings, but he is actually 27 and was on federal supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm, the agent said.

Morgan wanted to meet the girl for sex, became jealous and began speaking with the 13-year-old to try to make the older girl jealous, the agent said. When Morgan planned to travel to meet with younger girl, the girls reported the matter to a parent.

Law enforcement officers found the child porn images in the girl’s Facebook account and chat logs between Morgan and the girl in which he instructs her on how to pose for his photos.

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

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Federal Court, Yellowtone County Reporter

Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.