Catonsville Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges For Sexual Exploitation Of Children And Cyberstalking
Defendant Used Apps and Online Streaming Services to Coerce Children
Baltimore, Maryland – Bilal Mohammad Siddiqui, age 22, of Catonsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty on October 18, 2019 to federal charges of sexual exploitation of children and cyberstalking.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to his guilty plea, between April 2017 and August 2018, Siddiqui used the Internet-based communication services LiveMe, Snapchat, Kik, and FaceTime to coerce at least six minor females, ages 8 to 14, into creating and sending him sexually explicit images and videos of themselves. Siddiqui also attempted to sexually extort one of those victims, a sixth-grader. When she refused to produce additional sexually explicit videos of herself, he sent images and videos that she had previously shared with him to her sixth-grade classmates and friends.
Prior to September 2017, Siddiqui created an account on LiveMe, a mobile application that allowed users to stream live video over the internet and simultaneously chat with viewers. Siddiqui’s account included an anonymous username and a photograph of a young boy as his profile picture, so that other users would not realize he was an adult male. One of the users misled by Siddiqui was Jane Doe 1, an 8-year-old female.
On September 28, 2017, Jane Doe 1 was using LiveMe to broadcast a video of herself exercising in her pajamas. Siddiqui was among several LiveMe users watching the broadcast. When a number of those viewers asked Jane Doe 1 to show them her underwear, she refused, and eventually terminated the broadcast. Not long after, however, Jane Doe 1 began streaming a new LiveMe broadcast, and a number of her earlier broadcast viewers—including Siddiqui—followed her to the new broadcast. During the new broadcast, Jane Doe 1 told her viewers that she was 13 years old. Again, they enticed her to undress and expose herself. While she initially refused their requests, Jane Doe 1 eventually did what Siddiqui and other viewers asked, undressing and exposing her genitals to the camera.
Toward the end of Jane Doe 1’s broadcast, Siddiqui persuaded her to end her live stream and to contact him privately. They communicated via FaceTime, and during these video chats, Jane Doe 1 again told Siddiqui that she was 13 years old. He nonetheless instructed her to remove her shirt, pants, and underwear, then instructed Jane Doe 1 to use a marker to write “B-1-L-A-L”—his first name—on her skin next to her genitalia. He also instructed her to send him pictures of herself and her genitalia via text message. She complied with his instruction and sent Siddiqui at least one picture of herself.
After viewers of Jane Doe 1’s LiveMe broadcast reported the public conduct described above to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, law enforcement identified Siddiqui as the person who persuaded Jane Doe 1 to chat privately and obtained a search warrant for his residence. On September 5, 2018, officers executed the search warrant and located the cellphone that Siddiqui used to communicate with Jane Doe 1.
Siddiqui was present during the search, waived his Miranda rights, and voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by law enforcement. He admitted that the phone was his, that it was passcode-protected, that he had used LiveMe on the phone, and that he created the fake LiveMe profile using a photograph of a former classmate to disguise his identity. He admitted that he used his fake LiveMe account to communicate with Jane Doe 1, and later admitted—after initially denying—that he communicated privately with Jane Doe 1 through FaceTime, including instructing her to write his name next to her genitalia, and that he instructed her to send him nude images of herself via text message, believing Jane Doe 1 was 13 years old.
While Siddiqui was being interviewed, law enforcement conducted an on-scene forensic review of the phone and discovered evidence that he had also sexually exploited Jane Doe 2, a 9-year-old female. When officers asked Siddiqui about Jane Doe 2, he admitted that he created videos of her and estimated that there were ten videos of Jane Doe 2 engaging in sexually explicit conduct saved on his phone. Siddiqui explained that he began communicating with Jane Doe 2 in August 2018 using Snapchat, and continued as recently as September 3, 2018—two days before the search warrant execution. He explained that he captured the videos depicting this conduct by using his phone’s screen recording function, and that he believed Jane Doe 2 was 11 or 12 years old.
Finally, law enforcement asked Siddiqui whether he had engaged in similar conduct with any other children using mobile applications. He responded that he caused more than 10 but fewer than 50 minor females to do sexual things on video and that he derived sexual gratification from it.
Following Siddiqui’s interview, law enforcement sought and obtained records associated with online accounts controlled and used by Siddiqui. Those records showed that Siddiqui had coerced Jane Doe 4, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, into producing and sending him a nude image and nude videos of herself. Siddiqui began communicating with Jane Doe 4 on September 15, 2017, and told her that he was 15 years old and lived in her town. Within days, he had convinced Jane Doe 4 that they were in a relationship, and she revealed the name of the middle school that she was attending.
On October 4, 2017, however, Siddiqui began demanding that Jane Doe 4 send him sexually explicit images of her genitals, and threatened to send one of the videos of Jane Doe 4 to her classmates, friends, and family if she did not produce and send further videos of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Siddiqui specifically told Jane Doe 4, “Don’t play games with me .... I’ll expose u [right now] and ruin your life.” Jane Doe 4 begged him not to follow through on his threats and sent him additional explicit videos. After she sent the videos, Siddiqui told Jane Doe 4 that it was “too late” because he had already sent them to her friends.
On October 7, 2017, Jane Doe 4 tried to end her relationship with Siddiqui through a conversation on Snapchat. Siddiqui reacted to Jane Doe 4’s attempt by demanding that she immediately produce videos of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct. After she refused, Siddiqui sent one image and two videos—all of which depicted Jane Doe 4 nude—to two unidentified Snapchat users. On October 12, 2017, a classmate of Jane Doe 4 alerted her middle school guidance counselor that images of Jane Doe 4 were being circulated. School administrators conducted a brief investigation to ensure the images had been deleted but did not contact law enforcement.
Electronic evidence further revealed that, between April 2017 and September 2018, Siddiqui used Snapchat and Kik to entice three additional minors, an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a 14-year-old, to produce and send him sexually explicit images and videos. In each instance, he lied about his real age to persuade these minors to send him such materials.
Siddiqui and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, he will be sentenced to between 15 and 30 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for January 24, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey J. Izant and Paul E. Budlow, who are prosecuting the case.
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