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Former Trump aide sentenced to 12 years for “requesting videos of babies”

A former GOP staffer and ex-Trump aide who called the sexual abuse of babies his “absolute favorite” was sentenced to 12 years in prison for receipt of child pornography.

Ruben Verastigui of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty to charges of having 162 videos and more than 50 images of child pornography on his phone in July 2021. On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Verastigui to 151 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. He will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years.

Verastigui, 29, was active in an online group with at least 18 members dedicated to trading child pornography and discussing child sexual abuse, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Verastigui shared child pornography videos with another member of the group and made numerous comments about sexually abusing children.

Verastigui told the group his preference was for babies, saying they were his “absolute favorite,” and solicited another member of the group for videos of babies being raped, according to court documents.

“The other group member promptly sent Verastigui a video of a baby being raped, to which Verastigui responded enthusiastically,” court documents say. “The other group member then sent Verastigui numerous other videos of child pornography videos to Verastigui, including depictions of adults performing oral sex on babies.”

The ex-campaign aide for former President Donald Trump commented on videos saying he “wished they were longer.”

A former Trump aide was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to the receipt of child pornography. Pictured, a file photo of a judge’s gavel.
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Verastigui admitted to being part of the group with the display name “Landon” and the handle “@somethingtaken” when Department of Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant on his apartment in February.

Verastigui was arrested on February 5, the day of the search warrant, and has been in custody ever since, according to the DOJ.

Verastigui worked as digital director for the Joint Economic Committee from 2018 to 2019, and as a digital strategist for the Senate Republican Conference from 2019 to 2020. He was previously a senior designer for the Republican National Committee, where he created digital ads for Trump’s reelection campaign.

In 2020, there were 618,399 victims of child abuse in the U.S. Most cases reported were among young children, with 136,600 victims 1-year-old or younger, and another 150,673 victims were between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, according to Statista.

Homeland Security Investigations Child Exploitation Investigations Unit rescued 1,177 child victims in child exploitation investigations in 2021. The unit arrested 3,776 individuals for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children and helped to secure more than 1,500 convictions.

To report information about a missing or exploited child call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST(1-800-843-5678).

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