A Highland resident has pleaded guilty to five counts of five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office.
Christopher M. Horton, 20, a martial arts instructor in Belleville, was accused of abusing three students between the ages of 6 and 10. He video-recorded the abuse on his smartphone.
According to U.S. District attorney Stephen R. Wigginton, authorities recovered 57 video files from Horton's cell phone that contained child pornography created between the dates of May 1, 2012, and Feb. 9, 2013.
During an interview with law enforcement, Horton confessed to sexually abusing the minors and to having produced video recordings of the abuse, Wigginton said.
Horton is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7. He faces a prison sentence of 15-30 years and a $250,000 fine for each count.
The case was investigated by the Madison County Sheriff's Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Metro East Cyber Crimes and Analysis Task Force, and the Highland and Belleville police departments.