WILMINGTON, Del. – Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a Canadian man pleaded guilty Thursday to coercion and enticement of a 14-year-old girl he met online, in violation of federal law. The Pennsylvania State Police and the University of Delaware Police Department assisted in the investigation.
David Gellad, 44, of Rosemere, Quebec, pleaded guilty at a hearing in the United States District Court, District of Delaware. Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced Gellad's guilty plea.
According to court documents, Gellad began an online relationship with the victim in October 2010. They communicated through the victim's iPod Touch, using Facebook, AOL Instant Messenger and FFM, a photo sharing application. Between March and June 2011, Gellad traveled from Montreal to Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware on two occasions to meet the victim in person. In March 2011, Gellad flew from Montreal to Philadelphia International Airport and then met the victim for what she told HSI special agents was a sexual encounter in her southeastern Pennsylvania residence. In June 2011, Gellad traveled from Montreal to southeastern Pennsylvania and then drove the victim to a Marriott hotel in Newark, Del., where, she told HSI special agents, they engaged in sexual conduct.
Shortly after the June 2011 encounter in Newark, Del., the victim's father found text messages between the two on his daughter's iPod Touch and notified the Pennsylvania State Police. Gellad was subsequently charged with federal child exploitation crimes in June 2011. On July 23, 2011, Gellad was arrested as he attempted to re-enter the United States at the Highgate Springs Port of Entry, in Swanton, Vt. He has been in federal custody since his arrest.
"Once again, we see someone crossing the forbidden bright line that protects children under the age of 18," said Oberly." As long as there are criminal predators seeking out our children to satisfy their perverse desires, there will be appropriate prison space to house these predators for years. I especially thank the investigating agencies involved in this case and Assistant United States Attorney Ed McAndrew for their successful prosecution of this case."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.