Baltimore, Maryland - A Navy employee, who resided in Silver Spring, Maryland, before moving to Japan, was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in prison for the production, transportation and possession of child pornography.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur of the District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office made the announcement.

Spencer E. Steckman, 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  Steckman pleaded guilty on June 11, 2019, to one count of production of child pornography, one count of transportation of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.  In addition to his prison sentence, Steckman received a lifetime of supervised release and was ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to the victims.

According to court documents, Steckman enticed at least 10 preteen and teenage boys to engage in sexually explicit conduct, record it and send it to him.  He employed a variety of tactics, including misrepresenting his identity, offering money and videogame redemption codes and encouraging the children to compete with others to produce and send the “best” photos.  After years of this conduct, he moved to Japan in mid-November 2017, where he worked with Commander Navy Region Japan and transported and possessed child pornography.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Japan detained Steckman on March 27, 2018.  The U.S. Marshals service transported him back to Maryland to appear before the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  He has remained in custody since that time.

Further investigation revealed that Steckman had previously molested two prepubescent children on numerous occasions, that he had given one of the teenage boys cash and marijuana to engage in sexual activity with him, that he had shared his child pornography with like-minded offenders and that he stored most of his child pornography collection on an encrypted device.

The FBI’s Baltimore Field Office and the Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, with substantial assistance from NCIS.  Trial Attorney Jessica Urban of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Baldwin of the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case. 

This investigation was a 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 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.