Jun. 10—A former juvenile parole officer at the Youth Development Center has pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of child sexual abuse material and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor.
Jason Ellis, 45, was arrested in February after a lengthy undercover investigation by the FBI that began in the fall of 2020. According to published reports, Ellis was fired about a week after his arrest from his job at the state Division of Children, Youth and Families.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office, beginning in October that year, an undercover agent began corresponding with Ellis through a social media platform known for sharing child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Over the next 11 months, officials said, Ellis "engaged in graphic, sexually-oriented conversations pertaining to minors" with the covert agent and the agent's fictitious 13-year-old daughter. Ellis eventually began engaging in sexually explicit chats with the person he thought was a child, describing sexual acts he wanted the girl to engage in, and sending images of his genitals.
Last January, the same agent was operating a different online persona and got a message from a user in Rockingham County, and realized the communications were also from Ellis, the news release said.
Ellis' cell phone was later seized during an execution of a search warrant at his home, and portions of the chats and images were found on the device, officials said.
Authorities said Ellis also appeared to be corresponding through social media platforms with other users as young as 14 years old, and some of those chats involved Ellis soliciting and sharing nude images.
Ellis is scheduled for sentencing in U.S. District Court on Sept. 26.