Contact: Craig M. Wolff
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257
Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that Michael Van Eekhout, 51, of Westbrook, Maine, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court by Judge Jon D. Levy to nine years in prison and five years of supervised release for transporting child pornography and transmitting an extortionate threat. Van Eekhout pleaded guilty to the charges on January 21, 2015.
According to court records, in late 2011, Van Eekhout, posing online under an assumed name, persuaded a woman to send him nude photographs of herself. He then told her that he would widely disseminate the photos unless she took explicit photos of herself and sent them to him. When she did so, he posted the photos online. In April 2012, he threatened to continue doing so unless she sent him more explicit photos.
In June 2014, Van Eekhout, posing as the woman, sent an undercover federal agent a digital photograph of a naked pre-pubescent female. The next month, he was interviewed during the execution of a search warrant at his Westbrook home and admitted that he had sent the photograph and had pretended to be the woman.
The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”). "Child predators are finding more and more that anonymity in their online activities is a false notion," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge for HSI Boston. "HSI will continue to use our unique authorities and expertise to find these predators despite their best efforts to hide their true identities."
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. The initiative, which is led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.