Queens Man Charged With Conspiracy to Produce Child Pornography
Defendant Directed Women on Facebook to Abuse Children and Send Him Photographs of the Abuse in Exchange for Cash
A criminal complaint was unsealed earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Keith Liwanag with conspiracy to produce child pornography. Liwanag was arrested today and is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak.
Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, announced the charges.
“As alleged, the defendant victimized vulnerable children abroad by soliciting photographs and videos of their sexual abuse in exchange for money,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “The safety and protection of children is a priority for this Office and our law enforcement partners and we will pursue those who would endanger children to the fullest extent of the law.” Ms. Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children Unit for its investigative work and assistance in the investigation.
“This individual is alleged to have convinced women overseas to commit sexual acts with children in return for payment,” stated ICE-HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “His version of a ‘show,’ among other criminal acts against children, allegedly included enticing a mother to sexually abuse her own son for his pleasure. We will be relentless in our pursuit of child predators to ensure they face justice for their unfathomable acts.”
According to the complaint, in September and October 2016, Liwanag used a Facebook account to direct women in the Philippines to engage in sexual acts with children in exchange for money, and to produce and send child pornography over Facebook’s private messaging service. On September 8, 2016, the defendant sent several messages to a woman asking her to sexually abuse a six-year-old boy as part of a “show” in exchange for money. On September 11, 2016, the defendant sent and received messages from another woman about a “show” with the woman’s son and offered her money to perform a sex act on him. On October 12, 2016, the defendant sent a message to a third woman soliciting photographs of the sexual abuse of her child. In response, on October 27, 2016, the woman sent the defendant two images depicting child abuse. As set forth in court filings, the evidence obtained during the course of the investigation includes 10 recorded video conferences between the defendant and women engaged in the sexual abuse of children.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This prosecution was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Tanya Hajjar and Erin Reid are in charge of the prosecution.
Residence: Queens, New York