News and Press Releases

New Castle Man Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Child Sexual Exploitation Offenses

July 9, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ Acting United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar announced today July 9, 2010, that on July 8, 2010, Michael Penwell, a resident of New Castle, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in federal court in Pittsburgh to 30 years in prison to be followed by a life term of supervised release for violating federal child sexual exploitation laws.

United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose imposed the sentence on Penwell, age 41.

According to information presented to the court by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents Sara Seidman and James Kilpatrick and by Assistant United States Attorney Craig W. Haller, Penwell sexually molested and took sexually explicit photographs of a young child in 2008 and distributed the photographs to other people via the internet along with many other sexually explicit images of children.  At the time of Penwell's arrest in October 2008, he possessed hundreds of graphic sexually explicit images and videos of children.  In addition, Penwell engaged in many chat conversations on the internet during which he expressed his desire to engage in sexual acts with a child and to watch other adults engage in sexual acts with a child.

"The content of evidence in this case demonstrates the depravity of these predators. Penwell exploited a child in his care," said John P. Kelleghan, Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia. "People who produce, distribute and possess child pornography victimize the most vulnerable members of our society and they will not go unpunished."

This case was a product of Project Safe Childhood.  Launched in February 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Mr. Cessar commended United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the New Castle Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Penwell.

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