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Press Release

FBI Arrest Maryland Man Following Indictment on Charges of Distribution of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Joseph Ruben Baer, 20, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was taken into custody today following an indictment charging him with distribution of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Scott, of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, and Chief Pamela Smith, of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            According to the indictment, unsealed today, on April 18, 2024, Baer distributed video files depicting the sexual exploitation of minor boys via a social media communication application.

            In early 2024, a member of the FBI–MPD Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force was monitoring an online application in an undercover capacity. Law enforcement has come to learn that the application is used by some individuals who have a sexual interest in children. The undercover agent encountered Baer, who sent a message believing he was communicating with a pedophile. Baer expressed an interest in the sexual exploitation of prepubescent boys and later sent the undercover agent two video files via a social media communication application. Those video files depicted Baer masturbating while watching child pornography on a laptop computer. On April 25, 2024, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Baer with one count of distribution of child pornography. The case is assigned to the Honorable Loren L. AliKhan.  

            Earlier today, law enforcement executed a search warrant at two residences connected to Baer in Silver Spring, Maryland, and arrested him in the District of Columbia. Baer made his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and has been ordered held without bond pending trial.

            Distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a statutory maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment. The statutory sentences for federal offenses are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes. Any sentence will be determined by the Court based on the advisory Sentencing Guideline and other statutory factors.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and MPD’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.  Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul V. Courtney of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

            This case is being 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 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

            An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated May 10, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-410