Used a Messaging Application on his Phone to Entice Seven Minors to Send him Sexually Explicit Photos; Also Sexually Abused a Five-Year-Old Victim
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake today sentenced Frank Ray Leary, Jr., age 24, of Elkton, Maryland, to 30 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for production of child pornography. Judge Blake also ordered that, upon his release from prison, Leary must register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“Frank Ray Leary, Jr. preyed on vulnerable young victims, including a five-year-old boy,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Law enforcement agencies will continue to work to identify and prosecute those who harm our children.”
According to his plea agreement, in 2012 Leary distributed images of child pornography using a file-sharing network. In 2014 and 2015, Leary sent e-mails containing images and videos of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, including prepubescent minors. In September 2015, Leary used a messaging application to participate in group chats during which the members of the group discussed the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, shared files of child pornography, and commented on the files.
As detailed in his plea agreement, on August 1, 2018, law enforcement executed a search warrant for Leary’s person and his residence, seizing his mobile phone, among other things. A forensic examination of the phone, as well as the execution of various provider search warrants revealed that Leary used a messaging application on his phone to induce at least six minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct and send Leary images of that conduct. For example, on July 7, 2018, Leary engaged in chat with a victim who was between 14 and 16 years old, and enticed that victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct with his sleeping nine-year-old brother and take photographs of the sexual acts. Leary admitted that he engaged in sexually explicit chats with five other victims from around the world, including Germany, Bulgaria, California, and Kentucky. Leary requested and received images of the victims engaged in sexually explicit conduct, often directed by Leary. In addition, Leary shared images of child pornography with the victims and other minors, sending them links to accounts he maintained.
Finally, according to the plea agreement, a five-year-old victim disclosed that he had been abused by Leary between 2017 and 2018.
This 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. Led by the United States Attorney’s 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. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "Resources" tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who prosecuted the federal case.