TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Thanks to the Tippecanoe County High Tech Crime Unit, former Texas prison guard Phil Rickard is going to spend 25 years in prison.
Rickard, 51, paid a Lafayette woman $15 to perform sex acts on an infant via webcam.
Nicole Leffert, 26, told investigators she was chatting online with a man named Phil and called the sexual acts a “show” for him.
She said Phil would tell her what to do to the baby and how to continue molesting him as he grew up.
Initially, all Tippecanoe County prosecutors had to go on was the man’s first name, but through their High Tech Crime Unit, investigators determined it was Phil Rickard from Conroe, Texas.
They turned over the evidence to prosecutors in Texas, where Rickard will now spend 25 years in prison.
“It sickens me when I think about what she did,” said Mary Nan Huffman, chief prosecutor with the Texas Crimes Against Children Unit. “I just can’t even wrap my mind around it.”
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington said he’s proud of his office for protecting children outside the county as well.
Harrington said you think you’ve seen the worst, and then you get a case like this.
“This case led us to a part of the internet I wasn’t aware of,” said Harrington. “Where individuals go and they think they can basically hide and move around to talk about how to victimize children and basically make them their sex slaves.”
Huffman said they couldn’t have done it without the help of Tippecanoe County.
“They did such a fantastic job, the search warrants to PayPal, to Skype, everything — they did a tremendous amount of work,” said Huffman. “I’ve never seen a case that’s been this thoroughly worked up before from another county. Usually, there’s a lot more work to be done.”
Harrington said this case shows the value of the high tech crime unit and what can be done with digital evidence.
Typically, prosecutors have to rely on the chance someone witnessed the crime or wait until the victim is older and brave enough to come forward. However, technology has changed and has given cases like this one hope.
“He’s only 2 months old,” said Huffman. “He’ll have no idea that this ever happened to him. You know, hopefully, he’s with a good family and he’ll have no memory of it.”
Leffert was sentenced to 42 years and so was her co-defendant, David Hindsley of Lafayette.
The two performed sex acts on both a 2-month-old baby and 4-year-old child.
The Tippecanoe County High Tech Crime Unit is hosting an open house next month so local academic officials and law enforcement can see the work they do.