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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Former Foreign Service Officer Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison for Production and Transportation of Child Pornography

Sexually Abused at Least Five Minors While Stationed Overseas as a Foreign Service Officer

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm today sentenced Steven Hadley Hassan, age 52, of Frederick, Maryland, to 40 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for sexually abusing minors to produce child pornography and transporting those images to the United States.  Judge Grimm also ordered that, upon his release from prison, Hassan must register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).  Hassan has been detained since his arrest on June 8, 2018.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Department of State Inspector General Steve A. Linick; and Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. “Chuck” Jenkins.

“Steven Hassan preyed on vulnerable young girls, including foreign nationals, while representing the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “This sentence demonstrates that we will find and bring to justice those who victimize children.”

“Steven Hadley Hassan exploited his position as a U.S. government official abroad to victimize children over the course of several years in a certain perversion of public trust,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge John Eisert. “Today’s sentencing ensures that Hassan will serve a just sentence and not again have access to additional victims.”

“I appreciate the hard work and dedication of the special agents who worked on this important case,” said Inspector General Steve Linick.

According to his guilty plea, from October 2010 and continuing until mid-2013, Hassan admitted that he sexually abused Jane Doe 1 in government housing in the Philippines and South Africa, where Hassan was stationed in connection with his work as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department. 

During the time Hassan was stationed in the Philippines he also sexually abused two prepubescent minor sisters who resided in Manila, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, and produced images of the abuse.  Hassan met Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 in 2010, when the girls were seven and 11 years old, respectively, when he offered them food from a local restaurant near where they lived.  Hassan then transported Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 in his vehicle to a local hotel and sexually abused them.  Hassan had Jane Doe 3 take photos while Hassan sexually abused Jane Doe 2.  Hassan also brought Jane Doe 3 and two other minor girls to a local Manila hotel on at least three occasions and sexually abused them.  Hassan most recently sexually abused Jane Doe 2 in 2015 when he briefly visited the Philippines.

Sometime after November 2015, Hassan transported his camera and the Secure Digital (SD) memory card within it, which contained the photos documenting the sexual abuse of the minor girls, back to the United States.  Hassan eventually deleted the images of the child pornography he produced from the SD card.

From October 2014 through March 2018, Hassan, under a number of different usernames, used an online file-sharing network to distribute child pornography, including images documenting the sexual abuse of prepubescent minors, as well as to engage in online chats.  On January 22, 2018, an undercover investigator downloaded thousands of depictions of child pornography and child erotica from the “shared folder” of the file-sharing program that Hassan made available for download.  Search warrants were subsequently obtained for Hassan’s residence in Frederick.  Law enforcement seized a laptop computer, camera, and various digital media.

An HSI Computer Forensics Analyst forensically examined all of the digital evidence and discovered thousands of images of child pornography, including the images that depict Hassan, whose face is visible in some of the images, sexually abusing Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3.  The Analyst also recovered online chats in which Hassan repeatedly discussed his abuse of Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3, and others, and repeatedly sent the images he produced documenting the sexual abuse of Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 to other users of the file-sharing program.  In other chats, Hassan provided tips to others about how to meet and abuse minors in the Philippines.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.  For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "Resources" tab on the left of the page.       

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended HSI-Baltimore and HSI-Philippines, the U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General, and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Riley, who is prosecuting the federal case.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated August 13, 2019