Benjamin Faulkner, 26, was the mastermind of “Child’s Play” — the largest child pornography website in the world. At its peak on the dark web, Child’s Play had more than 1 million profiles. The website featured over 100 producers of pornography who raped and brutalized children and shot videos of their sadism for the delectation of pedophiles around the world.
Faulkner, a Canadian from North Bay, Ontario, bore “Warhead” as a username. He and Patrick Falte, 27, an associate from Nashville TN, were sentenced to life in prison on September 15. They had pleaded guilty in May. Only now are details coming out of the case. At their trial in Richmond, Virginia, a federal prosecutor described Faulkner thus: “The defendant’s abusive, exploitative actions are those of a truly depraved individual. Our society places a great and justified importance on the safety of our children, and the defendant’s actions demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that he is a threat to our children.”
Falte and Faulkner each had faced a minimum term of 30 years when sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr., whose sentence was longer than that sought by the government. Prosecutors agreed to plea deals in which they agreed not to ask the judge for a term greater than 50 years, while the defendants reserved the right to seek the minimum term of 30 years. Defense lawyers asked that Falte and Faulkner get 30-year terms, citing their projected ages when released and their amenability to treatment.
Faulkner worked for six years as a YMCA lifeguard in North Bay, which is adjacent to Lake Nippissing, according to the North Bay Nugget. He had also worked as a professional security expert. On his page at Couchsurfing, Faulkner described his life’s ambitions; “I’d rather live life with no regrets, so whenever an opportunity presents itself, I won’t hesitate to jump and make the most of it.”
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Faulkner and Falte wanted to groom new victims with “pizza, ice cream and toys.” Once they had control of a child, the torture began. Prosecutors charged: “There they raped a four-year-old provided by one of their users, who filmed the whole abuse as he had done on other occasions.”
It was after making three trips to Virginia that Faulkner and Falte in crime were arrested. They also face charges in Tennessee. Both Faulkner and Falte have attempted suicide while in jail.
Once the pair were arrested, detectives from the United States, Australia, and Canada worked cooperatively to continue operating the Child’s Play website for another 11 months. This allowed them to rescue a number of children, and also bust 90 child predators. “This is a war, and we have to engage in the war,” child advocate Hetty Johnston, told the Guardian.
A third man, Thomas Hix, 28, of Virginia was charged with the sexual exploitation of a child. A court date has not yet been set in his case.
Faulkner and Falte were arrested in Montpelier VA, having been under electronic tracking surveillance by agents of the Department of Homeland Security.
A federal affidavit indicated that the laptop computer seized from Faulkner stored approximately 30 images and three videos of the sexual abuse of a prepubescent minor. The three men allegedly communicated through internet forums, agreeing to meet at various locations to sexually abuse a child.
Court documents indicate Faulkner had a child porn collection on his electronic devices, including 47,000 images and 2,900 videos, at the time of his arrest.
Falte made three trips and Faulkner made two trips to Virginia in 2015 and 2016 to sexually abuse the child in question, with abuse filmed on at least two of the visits and then uploaded online.
At Faulkner's sentencing in the Richmond court, the child's mother and grandmother both provided victim impact statements. Her mother testified that the girl is “now timid and afraid around other men." In addition, the girl "now needs a relaxation tape at night to help her fall asleep. She is scared of the dark and wakes multiple times with nightmares because of her memories of [the defendants] and the abuse she suffered. She wakes up screaming,” said her mother.
“We live each day trying to help (the child) process and understand what has happened to her. It is going to take a long time,” said her grandmother.