BALTIMORE — A 41-year-old Worcester county man was indicted by a federal grand jury May 1 on charges of production, distribution and possession of child pornography.
Laiton Blake Witkowski, of Stockton, Maryland, had his initial appearance May 5 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Witkowski faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison for each of the two counts of production of child pornography; a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison for distribution of child pornography; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the four counts of possession of child pornography.
The indictment follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Ocean City, the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, the Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the Worcester County State's Attorney's Office.
The seven-count indictment alleges that Witkowski produced images of two minor females engaged in sexually explicit conduct. These images appear to have been taken without the knowledge of the victims, including images of one victim who appears to be sleeping and images of the second victim as she is using the restroom. The indictment further alleges that Witkowski distributed and possessed other images of child pornography, including images of prepubescent children being sexually abused.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
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, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Podlesni in the District of Maryland.