Thomas Warren Stickney was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, who ordered that upon his release from prison, Stickney 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.
The sentence follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the Baltimore County Police Department's Crimes Against Children Unit with the assistance of the Baltimore County State Attorney's Office.
According to Stickney's plea agreement, on Dec. 13, 2012, Stickney sent an image and video, each depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, to an individual with whom he was communicating online. The individual reported the incident to Baltimore County Police detectives, who assumed the online identity of the individual. In an undercover capacity, a Baltimore County Police detective communicated with Stickney and requested another video, which Stickney supplied. Stickney then asked the detective to meet him for sexual purposes. The detective, still in an undercover capacity, informed Stickney that he would have to drop off his young nephew before he could meet with Stickney. Stickney suggested that the detective bring his nephew along so that they could engage in sexually explicit conduct with the nephew. Stickney was arrested when he arrived at a local motel for the meeting. A search recovered two condoms from Stickney's front pants pocket, as well as a cellular phone from the front console of the car, and a laptop computer and external hard drive from a backpack on the front passenger seat.
A search warrant was obtained for Stickney's car and residence. A subsequent forensic examination of the laptop, external hard drive and other digital media seized from Stickney's home showed that there were approximately 14,350 images and 203 video files of minors, including prepubescent minors, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. These included depictions of sadistic and masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.
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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok in the District of Maryland.