WILMINGTON, Del. - Paul Edward Pavulak, 66, of New Castle, Del., was convicted on September 27 by a federal jury in Wilmington of child exploitation offenses uncovered in an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Delaware State Police.
A federal grand jury indicted the defendant on these five counts on April 16, 2009. A federal jury found Pavulak guilty of violating five felony child exploitation crimes, including:
- Attempted production of child pornography
- Attempted enticement and coercion of a minor to engage in sexual activity
- Failure to register and update a registration as a sex offender
- Committing a felony offense involving a minor while being required to register as a sex offender
According to evidence presented at trial, from September 2008 to January 2009, Pavulak developed an online relationship with a young woman in the Philippines who had a two-year-old daughter.
In December 2008, Pavulak traveled to the Philippines and met the woman and her daughter. Pavulak produced a sexually explicit movie of himself and the woman, and described the movie as the two-year-old girl's “training video." In another video, Pavulak was recorded standing naked in a hotel room with the child and her mother. These videos were later recovered by ICE HSI agents from the woman in the Philippines.
Following his return to the United States in January 2009, Pavulak attempted to produce child pornography of the two-year-old girl via a web camera during an online instant chat message exchange with the woman.
"This case is a disturbing reminder that predators who have a sexual interest in children believe they can evade detection and prosecution by committing sex crimes overseas," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "We want the public to know that ICE and the law enforcement community will work tirelessly to protect children."
On Jan. 19, 2009, the Delaware State Police executed a search warrant at a concrete company's office in New Castle, where Pavulak had been living and working. During the search, Delaware State Police seized digital media evidence, including computers, a camera and a mobile phone.
Upon review of the seized materials, investigators discovered thousands of images depicting the sexual abuse of minors on the computers. These images included depictions of children ranging in age from infancy to mid-teens engaging in sexual acts with adult males. On a mobile phone and a computer, the investigators also found sexually explicit communications between Pavulak and the woman regarding her daughter, in which they discussed having the woman prepare the child to engage in sexual activity with Pavulak when he returned to the Philippines.
Evidence at trial established that Pavulak was convicted in 1998 and 2005 of second degree unlawful sexual contact with minors in New Castle County Superior Court. In each of those cases, Pavulak molested the daughters of women he was dating. As a result of these convictions, federal and state law required Pavulak to register as a sex offender and to provide the registry with the address of his employer and his residence. Between July 2008 and January 2009, Pavulak consistently reported to the Delaware State Police that he was unemployed and that he lived in a motel. Evidence at trial showed that Pavulak worked for a concrete company owned by his children and also resided in a room at the company's office.
Following the return of the jury's verdict, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss stated, "Sophisticated child sex offenders like Mr. Pavulak use the internet to exploit children in a variety of ways. We will utilize all the tools available to state and federal law enforcement to see that individuals do not have the opportunity to victimize children - whether in person or online."
Delaware State Police Superintendent Colonel Robert M. Coupe stated, "We are pleased that Mr. Pavulak will not prey on any children in this state or another country. The state police will remain diligent in protecting children from predators."
Due to his prior convictions and his commission of these offenses while being required to register as a sex offender, Pavulak faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation that led to this case was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.
Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals through Operation Predator. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. McAndrew of the District of Delaware, and Trial Attorneys Bonnie L. Kane and Andrew McCormack of CEOS. The case was investigated by the Delaware State Police's Child Predator Task Force and High Technology Crimes Unit, and ICE-Office of Homeland Security Investigations.