LITTLE ROCK -- A White County man will spend the next 25 years in federal prison after he was sentenced Monday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky on one count of production of child pornography.
Joshua Sweat, 30, pleaded guilty in May to one count of production of child pornography in connection with messages discovered on a Texas man's cellphone in 2019 as part of an investigation that later led to Sweat's involvement. At that hearing, Sweat admitted that he sent nude images of a prepubescent boy in his care to a 43-year-old man under investigation by authorities with the Allen Police Department's Crimes Against Children unit in Collin County, Texas. Court records indicated that Sweat's involvement came to light when the Texan's cellphone was searched by Texas authorities who then notified a Little Rock police officer working with an FBI task force investigating crimes against children.
In April 2019, police in Allen, Texas, notified the Little Rock Police Department that they had located messages between an individual they were investigating in Texas and Sweat, who lived in Arkansas. In the messages, Sweat stated he was caring for a "little boy" each day and began sending nude images of the child, who appeared to be approximately 3 years old.
At Sweat's plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant told Rudofsky that Sweat was working for a private school daycare at the time he sent nude photos of a small child in his care to Chadwick. She said the child was later identified as one of the children from the daycare. She said on April 12, 2019, Little Rock police detective Amber Kalmer was notified by police in Allen, Texas, that they had discovered messages and images implicating Sweat while searching the Texas man's cellphone.
During an interview with police, Sweat told investigators he babysat locally and had access to small children. He confessed to law enforcement that he had images of child sexual abuse on his phone that included children under the age of 10 engaging in oral and anal intercourse. Sweat also admitted to taking photos of the victim and texting them to others.
Arguing for leniency, Sweat's attorney, Sonia Fonticiella of Paragould argued that Sweat suffers from autism and other cognitive deficits and that as an adult, he is unable to live on his own or work independently. In a sentencing memorandum, Fonticiella said that Sweat had grown up in a tight-knit, religious community centered around a church in Ward. She said while the church provided some shelter and security for her client, it "also created an environment where Joshua was not provided the tools to recognize when he was led astray."
Fonticiella asked Rudofsky to consider a low-end statutory sentence of 15 years in prison.
In addition to the 25-year prison sentence, Rudofsky ordered Sweat to submit to a lifetime of supervision by federal authorities upon his release from prison.