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Press Release

Man Pleads Guilty to Multiple Child Exploitation Offenses

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Maine man pleaded guilty today to sexual exploitation of children and distribution of a video depicting the sexual abuse of children.

According to court documents, Joseph Zoll, 63, of Sanford, used an online chat and webcam application from his home in Maine to direct an individual in the Philippines to live-stream a video of herself sexually abusing a prepubescent child. Zoll instructed this individual to, among other things, expose the child’s genitals to the camera for him to see and discussed with her his desire to sexually abuse the child. In another instance, Zoll sent this same individual a video depicting an adult woman sexually abusing a child who appeared to be approximately six to eight years old. Zoll communicated with this woman for over two years, during which time he repeatedly instructed her to live-stream video depictions of child sexual abuse. Video files found on electronic devices in Zoll’s home confirm that he had similar online relationships with multiple other individuals who, at Zoll’s direction would live-stream video depictions of themselves sexually abusing children for Zoll.

Zoll pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of children and one count of distribution of child pornography. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee for the District of Maine, and Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Krol of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New England made the announcement.

HSI New England is investigating the case.

Trial Attorney William G. Clayman of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig M. Wolff for the District of Maine are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the 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

Updated June 28, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 23-706