News and Press Releases

Norfolk Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Child Sexual Abuse

May 8, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. – Michael L. Colwell, 38, of Norfolk, Va., was sentenced today in Norfolk federal court to 40 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Charles T. May, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Field Office Norfolk, made the announcement after Colwell was sentenced by United States Chief District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.  Colwell previously pleaded guilty to these charges on December 20, 2011.

            According to court documents, Colwell sexually abused a minor victim over a period of approximately two-and-a-half years, beginning in 2008.  The abuse occurred on military property.  Colwell also produced child pornography using the victim, who was under 12 years of age during the offenses.            

            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, 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

            This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher A. George and Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Yusi prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on


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