Justice News

Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 15, 2019

California Man Pleads Guilty to Sexually Exploiting Minor He Met While Playing “Clash Of Clans”

A Fresno, California man pleaded guilty today to using the internet to coerce and entice a minor into producing child pornography. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI Washington Field Office and Chief of Police Barry M. Barnard of the Prince William County Police Department made the announcement. 

Emilio Morales, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of coercion and enticement of a minor into illegal sexual activity before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.  Sentencing is scheduled for May 31.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Morales met the 11-year-old victim while playing the online game “Clash of Clans.”  In 2017, Morales began grooming the victim over Clash of Clans before proposing that he and the victim communicate privately over the online chatting application Kik Messenger.  While communicating over Kik Messenger, Morales coerced and persuaded the victim to produce and send him sexually explicit images and videos.  The conduct ceased when, despite Morales’s attempts at manipulation, the minor victim refused to participate in any further sexual activity.

The case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force and the Prince William County Police Department, with substantial assistance from the FBI’s Fresno Resident Agency.  It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kyle P. Reynolds of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney D. Russell of the Eastern District of Virginia.

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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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.justice.gov/psc.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 
19-128
Updated February 15, 2019