UPDATE: Hurkes pleads guilty to one federal count of Producing Child Pornography

December 4, 2023
Mike Tanner

ABERDEEN, S.D.–A Watertown man charged in Federal Court with three child pornography counts pleaded guilty to one of those counts during a court appearance today (Monday).

Ace Crawford with the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office says as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Ted Jeffrey (T.J.) Hurkes pleaded guilty to Count One of the indictment, which charged him with Production of Child Pornography.

Hurkes was indicted in U.S. District Court in South Dakota in February on two counts of Production of Child Pornography and one count of Receipt and Distribution of Child Pornography.

As part of the plea deal, the remaining two counts will be dismissed.

The charge to which Hurkes pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison, with a maximum 30 year sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for June 3, 2024.

Upon completion of his sentence, he’ll also be required to register as a sex offender.

Hurkes admitted that in early October 2022, he used his cell phone to record sexually explicit material involving a juvenile female with the intent of distributing it via computer.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and the Watertown Police Department.

The case was brought as part of the U.S. Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Hurkes still has an unresolved case regarding similar charges in Codington County Circuit Court.