EVANSVILLE—“As a prosecutor, and as a parent, it is difficult to put into words damage done as a result of the horrific acts committed by these two people,” said Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, while announcing today that Emma Dell Hodge, age 44, of Evansville, was sentenced to 30 years in prison this morning by Chief United States District Judge Richard L. Young. This follows Ms. Hodge’s May 2, 2012 guilty plea to the charges of production of sexually explicit material involving minors and conspiracy to produce sexually explicit material involving minors. Today’s decision also follows the sentencing of Larry Everett Hodge, Ms. Hodge’s spouse, to 115 years in prison several weeks ago.
“Our hope is that through this prosecution and the sentences handed down by Judge Young, justice has been given to the young victim in this case and the healing process can begin,” Hogsett stated.
In November 2010, the Evansville Police Department responded to a report of child abuse from a concerned individual who had been sent images depicting the sexual abuse of a minor on her cell phone. That individual indicated that she had received the images from Larry Everett Hodge. Child abuse detectives were contacted to initiate an investigation.
Detectives went to the Hodge residence to speak with the couple, at which point it was immediately apparent that both knew about the abuse of the child, later identified as an 8-year-old female. Larry Hodge admitted in an interview with law enforcement that he had engaged in oral sex with the victim and was arrested on charges of child molestation.
The full extent of the abuse was later established during an examination of a Memorex data storage disc taken during a search of the Hodge residence. Agents identified at least seven separate digital photography sessions and two videos that were saved on the disc by Larry Hodge, all of which depicted sexual abuse of the minor. Some of the videos and images depicted sexual abuse by Larry Hodge himself, while others depicted sexual abuse by Emma Dell Hodge.
Further investigation revealed that the couple had gained access to the child by volunteering to assist the child’s parents by caring for the child after school and at various other times. Larry Hodge has also admitted to distributing the images and videos of the victim to a co-defendant, George K. Jackson. A sentencing hearing in the matter of Jackson is expected later today before Judge Young.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd S. Shellenbarger, who prosecuted the case for the government, Chief Judge Young also imposed lifetime supervision following Emma Hodge’s release from prison. During the period of supervised release, Hodge must comply with all sex offender registration laws, must not have unsupervised contact with minors, and must submit to an examination of any computer devices she uses.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Evansville Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was brought as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.usdoj.gov/psc.