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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Friday, November 1, 2013

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty To Traveling Into The District Of Columbia To Engage In Illicit Sexual Conduct With A Minor And Possession Of Child Pornography

    WASHINGTON – John Cunningham, 26, of Hagerstown, Md., pled guilty today to traveling interstate to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). 

     Cunningham entered the guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  The Honorable Beryl A. Howell is to sentence him on Jan. 31, 2014. Cunningham faces a maximum sentence of 30 years of imprisonment for traveling interstate to engage in illicit sexual conduct and a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment for possession of child pornography, as well as potential financial penalties.

      According to the government's evidence, on July 19, 2013, Cunningham contacted an undercover officer with the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force, who had posted an ad on a social network site. Over the next few days, Cunningham engaged in online email and text messaging with the undercover officer, whom he believed was the father of an under-aged girl. During this period of time, Cunningham arranged with the undercover officer to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with the child. 

     On July 22, 2013, Cunningham traveled from Maryland to a pre-arranged meeting place in Washington, D.C.  When he arrived, he was arrested.  Subsequent to his arrest, law enforcement searched Cunningham’s residence and recovered a large collection of child pornography.

     This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood initiative and investigated by the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes members of the FBI's Washington Field Office and MPD.  In February 2006, the Attorney General created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the U.S. Attorney's Offices, 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

     In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director Parlave and Chief Lanier praised the work of the MPD Detectives and Special Agents of the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force. They also commended the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari Redbord, who is prosecuting the case.

Updated February 19, 2015