Man Who Posed as a Teen-aged Girl On-line Pleads Guilty to Transportation of Child Pornography
Greenbelt, Maryland - Michael Speelman, age 52, of Adelphi, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to transportation and shipment of child pornography, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to Speelman’s plea agreement, in 2004, he assumed the on-line identity of a 16-year old under the name of “Lisa Stauffer.” Posing as “Lisa,” Speelman established a romantic relationship with a 15-year old female victim, who lived in Pennsylvania. During the course of this relationship, Speelman obtained nude and sexually explicit digital images of the victim and in return, Speelman sent images purported to be “Lisa.” On March 12, 2006, Speelman feigned the suicide death of “Lisa,” but continued to correspond with the victim pretending to be Lisa’s mother, “Sarah Stauffer.” On June 19, 2006, Speelman (posing as “Sarah”) sent the victim one of the sexually explicit photos that the victim had sent to “Lisa” and threatened to send the explicit photographs to the victim’s family. In December 2007, the victim told “Sarah” that she was moving on and had a boyfriend. Posing as “Sarah,” Speelman again threatened the victim with the distribution of the explicit photographs.
While online on January 12, 2008, the victim saw an account associated with “Lisa,” and initiated a chat. During their communication Speelman admitted that he had pretended to be “Lisa” and feigned her death to end the relationship with the victim. In addition, using his web camera, Speelman exposed himself to the victim.
On May 8, 2008, the FBI executed a search warrant at Speelman’s residence and among other things, recovered: a photo album and envelope containing printed photos of the victim, including nude photos in various poses; CDs containing 28 additional nude images of the victim, pornographic movie clips, including 22 clips which depict pre-pubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In addition, agents recovered a CD containing pictures of another female victim between 12-15 years of age, 10 of which are pornographic and apparently self-produced. Agents also recovered 13 grams of marijuana contained in a sandwich baggie and a clear vial.
Speelman faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for transportation of child pornography, followed by supervised release up to life. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for February 8, 2010, at 9:30 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 http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf, who is prosecuting the case.