Convicted child molester shared images via cell phone while in prison
An inmate at a Georgia prison has been sentenced to nearly 30 years in federal prison after admitting he distributed child pornography while incarcerated for failing to register as a sex offender.
Melton Andrew Padgett Jr., 47, a Savannah resident who was incarcerated at Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville, Ga., when charged in January, was sentenced to 312 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of Distribution of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker also ordered Padgett to pay $250,000 in restitution, to serve 15 years of supervised release after completion of his prison term, and to register as a sex offender. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Melton Padgett served time in prison after being convicted of child molestation, then was sent back to prison after failing to register as a sex offender – and while serving time in a minimum-security setting continued to victimize children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “A substantial term in federal prison will protect our most vulnerable citizens from this serial predator.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Padgett was identified as responsible for sharing images of child sexual exploitation after Georgia’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in March 2020 received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. After an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, Padgett pled guilty to sharing videos of child sexual exploitation through a social media messaging service while he was being housed in the Coastal Transitional Center in Savannah. Padgett previously has been convicted of child cruelty, child molestation and aggravated sexual battery, and failing to register as a sex offender.
“Padgett has not gotten the message that his pattern of predatory behavior must stop or he will continue to face serious consequences,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Protecting our most vulnerable population from exploitation is one of HSI’s most important missions.”
Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or https://report.cybertip.org/.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Savannah Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer J. Kirkland and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.