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Bloomington man sentenced 30 years for sexually exploiting minor under his care

A judge's gavel. (Photo by Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — A Bloomington man was sentenced to three decades for sexually exploiting a child under his care in 2022, the United States Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Joshua Vestal, 40, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a child. According to court documents, on Sept. 5, 2022, Vestal forced a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct with him and filmed it with his cell phone.

Officials say that at the time the video was recorded, the child was between 12 and 16 years old and under Vestal’s care.

Four days later, a witness discovered the video and multiple nude images of the child on Vestal’s phone. Court docs say the witness identified Vestal and the child in the video.

The witness sent the images and video to her phone to preserve the evidence and then confronted Vestal about what they found.

During the confrontation, Vestal took the witness’s phone and tossed it in the toilet. Vestal then performed a factory reset on his cell phone and took out the SIM card in an attempt to erase the digital evidence.

However, when the witnesses obtained a new phone, they found the video of Vestal sexually abusing the child synced to their electronic account, according to court documents. The next day, Bloomington Police Department officers arrested Vestal for sexual exploitation of a child.

A judge ordered that Vestal must serve a lifetime of supervision by the U.S. Probation Office following his release from federal prison and pay $10,000 in restitution to the child. He is also required to register as a sex offender wherever he lives, works, or attends school for the rest of his life.

“Everyone deserves a childhood free from sexual abuse, and it is up to us as adults to do all we can to protect children. This defendant not only sexually abused a vulnerable child entrusted in his care, he then attempted to conceal his heinous acts by destroying the evidence,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, in a release. “The serious sentence imposed in this case will ensure that children are protected from this predator for several decades to come. I commend the Bloomington Police Department, FBI, Indiana State Police, and state and federal prosecutors for stopping the abuse of this child, and preventing the abuse of others who may have fallen within his grasp in the future.”

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