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Child Exploitation

Maryland man sentenced to prison for sexually exploiting a minor after meeting on Facebook social network

BALTIMORE – A Owings Mills, Md., man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in federal prison 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), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Baltimore County Police Department.

Joseph Anthony Kallash, 31, was sentenced June 6 by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar to 15 years in prison followed by supervised release for life. Judge Bredar ordered that upon his release from prison, Kallash 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 (SORNA).

"Child molesters no longer need to hang out at playgrounds and shopping malls, because they have 24/7 access to children in their bedrooms," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "If you let your child use a computer, smartphone, iPod or any type of internet-connected device without adult supervision, your child is in danger."

"There is no refuge for child sexual predators who believe they can pursue their perverse behavior with impunity online; they cannot escape justice and there will be serious consequences for their actions," said HSI Special Agent in Charge William Winter. "HSI special agents will continue to use the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading."

According to his plea agreement, Kallash met a 15-year-old victim on Facebook in November 2010, while representing himself as a teenager. The victim was "introduced" to Kallash through Facebook by her 15-year-old friend. The friend had accepted Kallash's online request to be a "friend" in the summer of 2010, and according to the friend, Kallash had sex with her at his residence in August 2010.

In November 2010, Kallash picked up the victim and two of her friends, who had skipped school and brought them to his residence. They drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and watched a movie. Thereafter, Kallash took the victim to his bedroom, where they had sex.

On June 21, 2011, after the victim said she would not have sex with Kallash again, Kallash asked if he could have sex with the victim's younger sister. When Kallash began asking her more about her younger sister, the victim called the Baltimore County Police.

Kallash was arrested and admitted having sex with the victim. Police executed a search warrant at his residence and seized two laptops, an external hard drive, iPod and camera cell phone, containing sexually explicit pictures of minors. These images included sexually explicit pictures of the victim's friend which Kallash had taken and later sent to the victim's friend.

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-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

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 P. Michael Cunningham.