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Bloomington man sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for child sexual exploitation

A Bloomington man will spend the next 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a child, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.

Federal prosecutors say in Sept. 2022, 40-year-old Joshua Vestal forced a child between 12- and 16-years old to engage in sexually explicit conduct with him. Vestal then filmed the conduct with his cell phone, according to prosecutors.

A witness later found the video and multiple nude images of the child on Vestal’s phone.

Prosecutors say the witness sent the images and video to her personal phone to preserve the evidence, and then confronted Vestal about what they found.

When confronted by the witness, Vestal then took their cell phone and submerged it in the toilet. Prosecutors say he also performed a factory reset on his own cell phone.

When the witness obtained a new phone, they found the video of the sexually explicit conduct synced on their electronic account.

Vestal was arrested the following day on charges related to the case.

“Everyone deserves a childhood free from sexual abuse, and it is up to us as adults to do all we can to protect children.” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Following his release from prison, Vestal will be be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for life, and pay $10,000 in restitution to the child victim.

Vestal is also required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The FBI, Bloomington Police Department, Indiana State Police, and the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office assisted in the investigation of the case.