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Press Release

North Suburban Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Pornography and Exploitation Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A north suburban man has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for threatening to publish sexually explicit images of an underage girl unless she sent him more explicit photos and videos of herself.

DAVID J. COTTRELL, 30, of Niles, enticed the underage victim into sending him sexually explicit photos of herself via online social messaging applications.  After collecting the photos, Cottrell informed the girl that he knew her real name, the name of her school, and her parents’ jobs, and he threatened to post the images online and send them to her family unless the girl sent him additional, more explicit photos and videos, which she did.  Cottrell contacted the victim on a regular basis until her parents discovered the messages in 2017 and contacted law enforcement.

Cottrell pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of sexual exploitation of a child, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of 30 years, and one count of possession of child pornography, which is punishable by up to ten years.  U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman set sentencing for June 4, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

The guilty plea was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles W. Mulaney.

Cottrell admitted in a plea agreement that he similarly induced or attempted to induce four other minor victims into sending him sexually explicit images of themselves.  While communicating with the victims online, Cottrell used the screennames “sevendollarcab,” “brightcitylights,” “b88785,” and “YouShallSubmitToMe Sir.”

If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you are encouraged to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-843-5678, or logging on to

Updated March 13, 2020

Violent Crime