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Press Release

Charlotte Child Psychiatrist Is Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison For Sexual Exploitation of A Minor And Using Artificial Intelligence To Create Child Pornography Images Of Minors

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – David Tatum, 41, a child psychiatrist in Charlotte, was sentenced today to 40 years in prison followed by 30 years of supervised release for sexual exploitation of a minor and using artificial intelligence (AI) to create child pornography images of minors, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Tatum was also ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined within 90 days, a $100 special assessment per count of conviction, and a special assessment totaling $99,000 under the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act (AVAA). After he is released from prison, Tatum will also be required to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board in any state or jurisdiction where he works or resides.

Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in North Carolina joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

“As a child psychiatrist, Tatum knew the damaging, long-lasting impact sexual exploitation has on the wellbeing of victimized children. Regardless, he engaged in the depraved practice of using secret recordings of his victims to create illicit images and videos of them,” said U.S. Attorney King. “Tatum also misused artificial intelligence in the worst possible way: to victimize children. Today’s 40-year sentence underscores our efforts to do all we can to bring justice to child victims. As the field of artificial intelligence advances, my office is committed to prosecuting predators who seek to exploit this technology to inflict harm on children.”

“It is horrific to believe anyone would secretly record children undressing and showering for their own sexual gratification. And when the evidence proves that person is a doctor entrusted to help children through difficult mental health situations, it is inconceivable,” said FBI Charlotte Special Agent in Charge DeWitt. “The FBI will never stop working to put predators like Tatum behind bars for a very long time.”    

According to filed court documents, evidence presented at Tatum's trial and witness testimony, between 2016 to 2021, Tatum possessed images and videos of child pornography. As trial evidence established, in or about July 2016, Tatum secretly recorded a minor while the minor was undressing and showering. A forensic analysis of electronic devices revealed that Tatum produced the video of the minor and possessed it, along with other images and videos of child pornography. According to trial evidence, Tatum made similar surreptitious recordings of others, including of his patient during an outpatient visit who had just turned 18 years old five days before the recording.

Additionally, trial evidence also established that Tatum used AI to digitally alter clothed images of minors making them sexually explicit. Specifically, trial evidence showed that Tatum used a web-based artificial intelligence application to alter images of clothed minors into child pornography. Two of the images Tatum used AI to modify were from a school dance and a photo commemorating the first day of school.

On May 4, a federal jury in Charlotte convicted Tatum of one count of production of child pornography, one count of transportation of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. Tatum is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended FBI for their investigation of the case.

Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Cervantes and Mark T. Odulio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit


Updated November 13, 2023

Project Safe Childhood