Frederick County Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Sexually Exploiting a Toddler to Produce Child Pornography
Baltimore, Maryland –William H. Steinhaus IV, age 34, of Brunswick, Maryland, pleaded guilty on December 6, 2016, to sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. “Chuck” Jenkins; Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith; and Interim Chief Peter Newsham of the Metropolitan Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, between December 8 and 9, 2014, Steinhaus had a number of sexually explicit conversations on Kik, an instant messaging application, with other Kik users regarding their shared sexual interest in prepubescent children. Steinhaus took pictures using his iPhone or iPad of a two year old girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct and distributed them to approximately 25 other Kik users.
Steinhaus admitted that during those two days, he and another Kik user exchanged approximately 290 messages, including a discussion as to how Steinhaus could best sexually abuse the toddler. Steinhaus sent the user images of the child and Steinhaus engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and pictures of a couch, stating “That’s where tw[sic] assault will happen.”
Also on December 8, 2014, Steinhaus and a second Kik user exchanged approximately 293 messages. Steinhaus sent pictures of the child and Steinhaus engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and pictures of a couch, stating “That’s where the assault is going to happen.”
According to his plea agreement, between December 8 and 9, 2014, Steinhaus exchanged approximately 419 messages on Kik with an undercover law enforcement officer, whom Steinhaus had emailed earlier on December 8, 2014. Steinhaus sent the undercover officer approximately 30 pictures he had taken of the toddler, several of which contained images of the child and Steinhaus engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Through emergency legal requests, on December 9, 2014, officers identified Steinhaus as the subscriber to the Kik and Yahoo accounts used to communicate with the undercover officer. Officers began surveillance of Steinhaus’ residence in advance of the execution of a search warrant. During the surveillance, Steinhaus began sending the undercover officer images of himself with the victim in the background. Steinhaus told the undercover officer that he would be alone with the victim and would continue the sexual abuse of the child. Officers used a ruse to get Steinhaus out of the residence. Steinhaus came out of the house with his iPhone, and the officers identified themselves. Steinhaus fought with the officers as they tried to secure his iPhone, but they were able to secure and access the device. Steinhaus was arrested and the victim was rescued by the officers.
As part of his plea agreement, Steinhaus must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). In addition, a provision of his plea agreement in the federal case is that Steinhaus must plead guilty to related charges pending against him in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland.
Steinhaus and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Steinhaus will be sentenced to between 23 and 38 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for February 24, 2017, at 9:15 a.m.
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 Attorneys' 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 Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office and Metropolitan Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary A. Myers and Judson T. Mihok, who are prosecuting the case.