Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced that Michael Paul Gillis (64, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to possessing computer media containing images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a potential lifetime term of supervised release. Gillis was arrested by FBI agents on February 2, 2022, and has been detained since that time. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
According to court documents and information provided in open court, FBI agents were investigating individuals who were using a particular online file-sharing network to receive and share child pornography. The investigation revealed that Gillis, a retired public-school teacher, had accessed this network from his residence.
On February 2, 2022, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Gillis’s home. Gillis, who was home at the time, admitted that he had been accessing child sexual abuse materials using the internet for at least the past 15 years, that he had viewed materials depicting children as young as 3 years old, and that he currently had “a couple hundred” contraband videos on his computer. Gillis also admitted that he viewed child sexual abuse materials while working as a teacher and would fantasize about touching children inappropriately but claimed that he never acted on it. During the execution of the search warrant, FBI personnel seized several computers belonging to Gillis that contained at least 2,000 images and 210 videos depicting infants, toddlers, and other young children being sexually abused.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown. The forfeiture of assets is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran.
This is another case 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.