SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A Morgan Hill man was sentenced to prison for exploiting families living in extreme poverty by paying them to sexually abuse their own children.
Prosecutors said Johnny Ray Wolfenbarger, 65, paid mothers and sex traffickers in the Philippines to livestream videos of children as they were being sexually abused.
A jury found Wolfenbarger guilty on every child pornography charge that prosecutors leveled against him. On Monday, U.S. Judge Edward Davila sentenced Wolfenbarger to serve the next 17 years in a federal prison cell.
“Johnny Ray Wolfenbarger leveraged the extreme poverty and desperation of foreign families to perpetrate sexual abuse on their young children,” United States Attorney Stephanie Hinds said.
“His prison sentence reflects these vile acts and the immeasurable harm he caused to these children’s lives. All children, wherever they are, must be protected from being preyed upon by a sexual predator,” Hinds said.
Wolfenbarger was immediately taken into custody Monday to begin serving his sentence.
According to evidence presented at his 2021 trial, the FBI initiated an investigation into Wolfenbarger after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The FBI executed a warrant on his email account and discovered numerous images and videos of child pornography, chats detailing his solicitation of livestreamed child sex abuse “shows,” and receipts for money transfers by Wolfenbarger to numerous sex traffickers the Philippines who sold these shows.
The chats demonstrated that Wolfenbarger customized these livestreamed shows by directing the children to engage in specific sex acts on camera, prosecutors said. The victims were between ages 4-12 years old.
Further trial evidence showed Wolfenbarger traveled to the Philippines throughout 2015 and early 2016. On August 2, 2016, he flew back to San Francisco International Airport, where he was met by an FBI agent. During an interview with the FBI, Wolfenbarger admitted that he solicited, paid for, and “directed” livestreamed child sex abuse shows from numerous women in the Philippines, prosecutors said.
Western Union bank records documented over $25,000 in money transfers from Wolfenbarger to families in the Philippines.
“On several occasions, Wolfenbarger sent money to the children’s guardians for living expenses and to purchase sex toys and web cams, with the explicit understanding that he would receive sex shows in return,” prosecutors wrote.
Online sexual exploitation of vulnerable, impoverished children in the Philippines has greatly increased in recent years due to demand from pedophiles in wealthy Western nations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors outlined how extreme poverty of young victims and their families provided extensive “leverage” to Wolfenbarger.
In addition to the 210 month prison term, Judge Davila sentenced Wolfenbarger to a 15-year probation term requiring supervision after completing his prison sentence.