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Child Exploitation

Maryland man sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography

BALTIMORE — A Rising Sun, Md., man was sentenced for sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore and the Maryland State Police (MSP) with assistance by the Cecil County State Attorney's Office.

Michael Dale Irwin, 27, was sentenced Wednesday to 210 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett. Judge Bennett also ordered that upon his release from prison, Irwin 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.

On 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, with the consent of the witness MSP began monitoring calls and text messages between Irwin and the witness and directed all communication by the witness with Irwin. After Irwin sent the witness a video depicting a 6 to 8-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. HSI special agents in Baltimore conducted the forensic examination on Irwin's phone and HSI's victim witness specialist provided substantial assistance to the victims and their families.

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 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.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.

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