St. Mary’s County Man Pleads Guilty To Producing Child Pornography
Used a Watch Camera to Surreptitiously Film the Victim
Greenbelt, Maryland – Ronald Davis Pope, age 49, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to production of child pornography.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron; and St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Richard Fritz.
According to Pope’s plea agreement, from February through May 2013, Pope lived with a family and shared a bathroom with the victim, a 14 year old male. Pope placed a watch containing a hidden camera in the bathroom and recorded the victim in the shower and using the bathroom. The camera was placed in a location that allowed Pope to capture videos focused on the victim’s genital area. Pope then transferred the videos to his computer and cellular phone. The victim was not aware that he was being recorded.
On May 2, 2013, federal and state law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at Pope’s residence and seized electronic devices, including Pope’s cellular phone and laptop computer. A forensic analysis of the SD card found in the cellular phone and the laptop recovered a total of 18 videos depicting the victim dressing, undressing, showering and using the restroom. The victim’s penis is exposed in at least 12 of the videos. At least one of the five videos found on the laptop appears to be part of the same video recovered on the cellular phone.
On May 7, 2013, a package addressed to Pope arrived at his residence. The package contained a weather clock hidden camera purchased on May 1, 2013, one day before Pope’s arrest. Later that month, one of Pope’s family members retrieved a package from a post office box belonging to Pope, which contained an HD clock DVR, USB cord and a micro SD card.
In June 2013, federal law enforcement officials seized the camera watch used to record the videos of the victim. Subsequent forensic analysis of the watch camera memory revealed three videos, one of which depicts the victim showering. The spy camera watch also contained an image of Pope’s face.
As part of his plea agreement, Pope 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).
Pope and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Pope will be sentenced to 235 months in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for June 3, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. Pope’s federal sentence will run concurrent to the sentence imposed in a case pending the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court involving a separate victim. In that case, Pope has agreed to plead guilty to sexual abuse of a minor and be sentenced to 25 years in prison with all but 20 years suspended.
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.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office and St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristi N. O’Malley and Nicolas Mitchell, who are prosecuting the case.