One of the most twisted child sex cases in the history of Western Pennsylvania drew to a close last week when a federal judge sent a Clearfield County woman to prison for a quarter century for using a cellphone to record her boyfriend raping a 3-year-old.

Amanda Nichelle Downs, 31, of rural Clearfield Borough, pleaded guilty Thursday to production of material depicting the sex abuse of a child in her care in a case investigated by local police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Haines, who presides in Johnstown, then sentenced her to 25 years.

In June the judge gave Downs’ 46-year-old boyfriend, Jackson Curtis Martin, 35 years in prison and told him she would have given him more if she could have, saying she had never seen a case “more appalling, more grotesque, more disgusting and more heinous” in her career.

There is no parole in the federal system. In addition to the prison terms, both will be on U.S. probation for the rest of their lives.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Sheehan-Balchon said that Downs not only stole the innocence of the child but also “produced a permanent record of it.”

Downs tried at one point to argue that she videotaped the assault while Martin was sexually abusing both her and the child, portraying herself as a victim, but Sheehan-Balchon said she was a perpetrator who caused permanent damage to the child.

Downs controlled Martin’s access to the girl, and text messages between the two in 2018 prove it, Sheehan-Balchon said.

In an exchange on Nov. 24, Martin asked Downs for permission to drug and assault the child while Downs took video. Downs said, “We’ll see” and later said “sure.”

When agents interviewed Downs in 2019, she explained that she was upset that Martin was attracted to the child but not to her.

The case stems from a search warrant executed by Clearfield Borough police on Martin’s house in January 2019, when he was arrested.

Law officers took his cellphone, and HSI agents found the rape video on his cloud storage. They also found thousands of child porn images.

Downs has “irrevocably harmed [the child] and has shown little remorse for the damage and violence she caused,” said Sheehan-Belchon in asking for a heavy prison term.

The child, now 7, suffers from post-traumatic stress and night terrors for which she needs medication.

Those conditions, Sheehan-Belchon said, “will last a lifetime.”

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at

Torsten Ove

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at