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Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Minors to Produce Child Pornography

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2010

Baltimore, Maryland - Joseph Lawhorn, age 35, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to the sexual abuse of two minor males to produce child pornography.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

According to Lawhorn’s plea agreement, on December 17, 2008, the Baltimore County Police Department received information that Lawhorn was sexually abusing two minor males. On December 23, 2008, a search warrant was executed by the Baltimore County Police at Lawhorn’s residence, and officers recovered two computers, three cameras, and digital removable media. Lawhorn was arrested at his place of employment and his iPhone was seized.

A forensic examination of Lawhorn’s computers recovered at least 22 image files of the minor males engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The iPhone was forensically examined as well and contained several sexually explicit images of the two minor males taken with the iPhone on May 28, July 17, August 6, 2008, and September 6, 2008. Several of the images on the computer and the iPhone documented Lawhorn’s sexual abuse of the minor males.

As a result of his guilty plea, Lawhorn will be required to 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).

Lawhorn faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison, followed by supervised release for life, for production of child pornography. As part of the guilty plea, the government and the defendant have agreed that 15 years in prison is the appropriate disposition of this case. U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson has scheduled sentencing for February 9, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Details about Maryland’s program are available at www.justice.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Baltimore County Police Department, the FBI, and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bonnie S. Greenberg, who is prosecuting the case.

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