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Press Release

Teacher Gets 35 Years For Child Exploitation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - Philip Gordon Paauwe, 33, of Grandville, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 420 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for coercing and enticing a minor to produce child pornography. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney also imposed a period of supervised release of 10 years and ordered Paauwe to pay $34,000 in restitution to the victim.

          In sentencing Paauwe, Judge Maloney stated that in his 25 years as a judge, he has not often, or perhaps ever, seen this degree of depravity. Judge Maloney said that Paauwe’s "grotesque behavior" and the "degree of manipulation is just unbelievable" and found that Paauwe was a very dangerous individual who used his "teaching position to perpetrate this monstrosity." Judge Maloney denied the defense request for leniency and expressed his goal to protect children from the risk posed by Paauwe.

          Paauwe came to the attention of law enforcement during an undercover operation where he initiated plans to have sex with a 13-year-old girl. Paauwe was originally charged in state court for child pornography found on his phone. Further investigation into those images disclosed that he had been exploiting an out-of-state 15-year-old girl to make child pornography. Local authorities then referred the matter for federal prosecution. In its sentencing memorandum, the U.S. Attorney’s Office opposed the defense request for leniency and noted Paauwe’s extreme sexual manipulation of the victim, his fantasies of raping and killing children, and his sexual misconduct related to his teaching position.

          In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Birge stated, "As a teacher of special needs and emotionally impaired students, Paauwe knew how to relate to and ultimately exploit the minors he targeted. The school environment itself was fodder for his perverted fantasies. He is every parent’s nightmare. And that is why it is so important for my office to hold him and criminals like him accountable."

          "The defendant exploited children for his own personal gratification. The identification, investigation and prosecution of those who victimize and exploit the most vulnerable members of our society remains a top priority for the FBI and its law enforcement partners," said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Rainer Drolshagen.

          This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor's offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following web site: Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Davin Reust and Daniel Mekaru, in cooperation with the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office, and investigated by WEBCHEX – a partnership of FBI, Michigan State Police, and other local agencies, including the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.


Updated September 16, 2019

Project Safe Childhood