The indictment was returned Dec. 19, following an investigation by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Baltimore County Police Department.
Anthony Maurice Cottle, 23, of Owings Mills, Md., had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore Dec. 20 and was temporarily detained. At a detention hearing Dec. 21, U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner ordered Cottle to remain detained pending trial. Cottle was a firefighter with the Baltimore County Fire Department.
According to the three-count indictment, in June and July, Cottle coerced two boys to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce two videos. Cottle allegedly produced a video that depicts the genitalia of a young boy and Cottle performing sex acts on the boy. Cottle allegedly produced a second video depicting the genitalia of another young boy. The indictment further alleges that on Sept. 28 Cottle possessed these videos and other images of child pornography.
On each of the two counts for producing child pornography, Cottle faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison, followed by up to lifetime of supervised release; he faces up to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.
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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ayn B. Ducao is prosecuting this case.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.