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Child Exploitation

New Jersey man charged with luring teenage boy, downloading child pornography

NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey man was charged Tuesday with luring a teenage boy to Pennsylvania for sex as well as possessing child pornography on his home computer. He made his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon. The charges are the result of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Robert Mucha, 56, of Newton, N.J., was charged with one count of enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, at a hearing in Newark federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer. If convicted he faces up to life in prison.

Mucha was arrested at his home July 26, and was charged at the time with a single count of possessing child pornography. He has been detained by law enforcement since his arrest.

"Child exploitation crimes victimize the most vulnerable members of our society," said Andrew McLees special agent in charge of HSI Newark. "The victimization of children for sexual purposes is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, which is why HSI will continue to be relentless in pursuing child predators."

According to court documents, Using Yahoo Messenger, a web-based chat service, Mucha communicated regularly with a number of individuals who shared his sexual fascination with child cannibalism. Among Mucha's chat partners was Michael D. Arnett, who was arrested and charged in May for production of child pornography by the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Kansas. On multiple occasions, Mucha and Arnett discussed their mutual interest in kidnapping, raping and eating children.

In October 2010 Mucha convinced a 15-year-old boy to travel from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to spend the day with him and then sleep over at Mucha's apartment in Stroudsburg, Pa. After he was arrested in July Mucha admitted to sexual contact with the teenager.

During a post-arrest statement, Mucha also admitted his interest in eroticized child cannibalism. Prior to his arrest, Mucha worked as a volunteer emergency medical technician in Andover, N.J. He also previously taught band and Bugle Corps to teenagers in Belleville and Lakewood, N.J. During a post-arrest statement, Mucha admitted that over the course of his life he has touched hundreds of boys for his own sexual gratification.

Today's charges are part of Operation Holitna, an ongoing HSI-led investigation that originated in Boston. In 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and HSI Boston arrested Robert Diduca on child pornography production charges. He was convicted and subsequently sentenced in June 2012. Forensic analysis of Diduca's computer led investigators to the Netherlands where a Dutch national was arrested and charged with production, distribution and possession of child pornography, as well as the sexual assault of 87 minors. Since that time, a worldwide network of offenders has been, and continues to be, unraveled, including today's defendant. Defendants and victims continue to be identified around the world. To date, more than 150 children have been rescued and 60 perpetrators arrested worldwide - including Mucha - as a result of Operation Holitna.

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-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 the U.S. representative 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.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew J. Bruck of the General Crimes Unit and Matthew E. Beck, deputy chief of the General Crimes Unit, in Newark.

The charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.