CIA Files Reveal Staffers Committed Child Abuse Crimes, Avoiding Prosecution
Story Code : 966654
A scolding expose based on a trove of internal CIA documents indicates an apparent pattern of failure by the federal government to prosecute CIA employees and contractors suspected of child sex abuse crimes.
The CIA had evidence that at least 10 of its employees were involved in child sex crimes; however, only one was ever charged with a crime while the rest were dealt with internally, according to newly released documents.
The bombshell revelation was reported by BuzzFeed News, which obtained hundreds of internal CIA reports through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits. The documents date from 2004 to 2019, and it took the outlet nearly a decade to gain access to them.
According to the documents, one of the 10 CIA staffers had “inappropriate sexual activity with an unidentified two-year-old girl” and admitted to having sexual contact with a six-year-old on “two separate occasions.” The employee was fired from the agency but never charged.
A second employee allegedly purchased sexual videos of young girls which were recorded by the victims’ mothers – an incident which led to his resignation, but not charges – while a CIA contractor was caught attempting to arrange sex with a child, who was actually an undercover FBI agent. His contact was revoked, but no charges were filed.
The only CIA employee who was actually charged for child sex crimes was also under investigation for mishandling classified material, according to BuzzFeed.
One unnamed former official told BuzzFeed that the CIA prefers to deal with incidents internally because employees who get charged with a crime “may inadvertently be forced to disclose sources and methods.”
It is not the first time that documents have been released showing a child sex crime problem at the CIA, and the agency’s reluctance to deal with it externally.
In 2015, Vice News also obtained documents through FOIA requests which showed the CIA had knowledge of child abuse and child pornography crimes allegedly committed by its staff.
The trove of documents details investigations by the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The spy agency watchdog deals internally with all sorts of crimes, including those committed by third parties, like possession of a fake agent badge. The documents were heavily redacted and the release of some pages under FOIA was fully denied.
BuzzFeed focused its investigation on alleged sexual crimes involving minors. Of the 10 identified individuals, one admitted to sexually abusing two girls aged two and six. Most cases involve crimes related to child pornography, like possession, smuggling, and procurement of outlawed content.
Was the self-confessed child abuser prosecuted?
The documents state that the CIA employee in question admitted to the OIG that he had engaged in “inappropriate sexual activity” involving a two-year-old girl and had “inappropriate sexual contact” with a six-year-old girl on two occasions. The first victim was not identified. The second one apparently was. The employee was also “found to have extensively downloaded child pornography” and admitted to searching for abuse images featuring 12 to 14-year-old victims.
In August 2009, an assistant US attorney declined prosecution “based on taint issues” and “the lack of previously identified child pornography victims” in videos found in the man’s possession. In March of the same year, the CIA decided to terminate the employee and revoke his clearances.
Why no federal prosecution?
The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which declined prosecution, would not comment on individual cases, but said that “the occupation or employer of the suspect does not factor” in its decision of whether to file charges. The reference to “taint issues” may indicate mishandling of evidence, BuzzFeed suggested.
A CIA insider told the outlet that the agency is concerned that in a criminal trial, classified information may be disclosed. “We can’t have these people testify, they may inadvertently be forced to disclose sources and methods,” the former official was cited as saying.
No prosecutions at all?
BuzzFeed identified two such cases, in which both of the prosecuted individuals were also accused of mishandling classified materials. One was an unidentified contractor, who was found to have on his private laptop personal data of “Agency-affiliated individuals” and technical files “related to Agency systems.” They were discovered during a child porn probe. The FBI took over as the primary investigator of the case.
Another one involves Joshua Schulte, the former CIA technical specialist accused of leaking the agency’s hacking tools dubbed ‘Vault 9’ to transparency organization WikiLeaks. Last year, he was convicted of contempt of court and making false statements to the FBI, but the jury got deadlocked on the more serious leaking allegations. He pleaded not guilty over the child pornography possession charges. A separate trial for those allegations is pending.
What about the other alleged offenders?
Five of the 10 people spotlighted by BuzzFeed were fired or resigned. Five others were referred to a personnel board or the Office of Security, which handles the security of CIA facilities. The outcome of one case could not be learned from the released documents.
In an eleventh case, the OIG found no direct evidence of any crimes, but said the subject had “consistent interest” in the topic of sexual abuse of minors, which the office believed to be concerning. The part explaining how the agency handled the situation was redacted.
BuzzFeed said the CIA’s record of dealing with suspected offenders as described in the documents “marks a striking deviation from how sex crimes involving children have been handled at other federal agencies.”