Severn Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Illegal Sexual Activity
Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced William H. Steinhaus IV, age 34, of Brunswick, Maryland, today to 25 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography. Judge Blake also ordered that, upon his release from prison, 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).
The sentence 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 Acting 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. Also on December 8, 2014, Steinhaus and a second Kik user exchanged approximately 293 messages. Steinhaus sent both users images of the child and Steinhaus engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and pictures of a couch, stating to the first user “That’s where tw[sic] assault will happen,” and to the second, “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.
Nine of the Kik users to whom Steinhaus sent photographs of the victim were arrested and charged – seven of them federally. Of the federal defendants, five have pleaded guilty to distribution, possession, or transportation of child pornography and two other have charges pending. Three of the convicted defendants were sentenced to between five and 10 years in federal prison and the two defendants are awaiting sentencing.
As part of his plea agreement in the federal case, Steinhaus pleaded guilty to related charges filed against him in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland, and is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges on March 21, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.
The 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 prosecuted the case.