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Child Exploitation
07/16/2013

Maryland man pleads guilty to sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography

BALTIMORE – A Rising Sun, Md., man pleaded guilty Tuesday to the sexual exploitation of a minor to produce child pornography. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Maryland State Police (MSP) with assistance by the Cecil County State Attorney’s Office in Maryland.

Michael Dale Irwin, 27, must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act as part of his plea agreement. Irwin faces at his Oct. 23 sentencing before U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett 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.

According to the plea agreement, March 12 a witness reported to MSP that Irwin had sent an image to her cellular phone documenting his sexual abuse of a prepubescent minor female. The witness contacted MSP when she recognized Irwin in the image. Although the messages were set to "auto delete" and were no longer on the witness’ phone, MSP began monitoring calls and text messages between Irwin and the witness as per her consent. MSP directed all communication by the witness with Irwin. After Irwin sent the witness a video depicting a six to eight-year-old female engaged in sexually explicit conduct, troopers arrested Irwin at his place of employment and seized his phone, which had been used to text and call the witness. MSP recovered the images and video documenting Irwin’s sexual abuse of a prepubescent minor female and obtained the sexually explicit text messages that he had previously sent to the witness describing in graphic detail the sexual acts he performed on the child.

The 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 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.

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 Justice Department 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, including HSI, to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Wilkinson.