A Maryland man pleaded guilty to producing and possessing child pornography after getting caught filming children in public restrooms. The man had been sharing the content on the dark web child pornography forum, “PlayPen”, as well as on other hidden services used by pedophiles to distribute illegal content.
Jonathan Oldale, a 55-year-old from Chevy Chase, Maryland, admitted to a count for the production of child pornography and another count for receiving child pornography, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland said in a recent announcement. Robert K. Hur, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, announced the news alongside the FBI Special Agent in charge of the Baltimore Field Office, Gordon B. Johnson, the Montgomery County Police Department Chief, and the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, John McCarthy. Oldale’s case involved the government agencies represented by all of the officials present at the press release.
On May 5, 2017, an employee at a gymnastics facility for children in Maryland called the Montgomery County Police Department after finding a suspicious backpack in one of the bathrooms at the facility. According to the employee, the backpack had a blinking red light. The employee also suspected that the spot in front of one of the toilets was not where the backpack was supposed to have been stored. According to a report filed by the police after they had arrived at the scene, an employee had discovered a backpack in the same bathroom earlier that year but had not called the police about the bag. This time, the report explained, the employee had identified Oldale as the person who had left the bag in the bathroom.
When the police searched the bag, they discovered a camera disguised as a key fob for unlocking a vehicle remotely. Law enforcement officers from other branches of law enforcement aided in the investigation after Montgomery County Police Department officers carried out a search warrant on May 9, 2017, at Oldale’s residence in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Officers seized three laptops and other electronic devices outlined in the search warrant scope. Forensics examined the contents of the hard drives in all three laptops. Two laptops had Tor installed and had various pieces of evidence indicating that Oldale had been using child pornography forums, such as bookmarked links and cached thumbnail files. One of the two laptops had been used to access the child pornography forum, Playpen. The third laptop contained pictures and videos of children changing clothes and showering in his own restrooms and in the restrooms of buildings accessible to the public.
The content stored on the third laptop provided law enforcement with evidence that Oldale had used additional electronic devices to store and record illegal content. A judge signed another search warrant. The second warrant targeted recording devices, cell phones, and removable storage devices at Oldale’s house. Thanks to the pictures and videos Oldale had stored on his laptop, the police had learned the exact location of one or more cameras. During execution of the search warrant, the police seized a smartphone, three so-called “spy cameras,” six USB drives, and six microSD cards. All three cameras, the phone, the USB drives, and all but one of the microSD cards contained Oldale’s “home videos” or child abuse content downloaded from dark web sites using one of the three laptops.
Between May 2017 and July 2017, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland explained Oldale had captured more than 1,000 pictures and videos of children in compromising positions in bathrooms at his house, at various events, and in public restrooms. His storage devices had content organized by month, week, and by swimsuit types or colors. Oldale, according to the US Attorney, admitted the production and possession charge in exchange for a 15-20 year prison sentence. The plea agreement also requires Oldale to register as a sex offender and forfeit $400,000 to the government. This assumes the court will accept the plea at a hearing in April 2019.