Baltimore Man, Steven Martin Bickling Admits to Paying for International Video Chats Involving the Sexual Abuse of Children
The Defendant Possessed 21 Images and 50 Videos of Child Exploitive Material; Some Images Involved Prepubescent Minors
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.
According to his guilty plea, in 2018 Bickling visited a website that offered live chat rooms with Asian women. After hearing children in the background of chat rooms, Bickling asked a female performer to show her daughter nude for $50. After agreeing to Bickling’s request, the female performer posed her prepubescent daughter on video chat as Bickling masturbated. Bickling estimated that this conduct occurred 12 to 15 times within a two-year period. In at least one instance, Bickling masturbated during a video live chat involving a child that was approximately eight or nine years old. Bickling claimed that this occurred while he was drinking excessively.
As stated in his plea agreement, on August 19, 2020, Baltimore City detectives and members of the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a search and seizure warrant at Bickling’s residence. Bickling was present at the time. During an interview with law enforcement, Bickling admitted that he possessed pornographic videos of children between five and twelve years of age saved on his laptop. Bickling also informed law enforcement that he paid for access to a restricted child pornography website.
A subsequent review of Bickling’s email account revealed numerous conversations in which Bickling solicited sexual images or videos of female children. For example, in an email communication on May 7, 2019, Bickling wrote “I like to rape young girls. Is that ok with you?”. On the same day, Bickling stated “I watch a lot of child prn . . . I like when they cry.” Additionally, in other chats dating as far back as 2018, Bickling solicited live video sessions of adult male relatives having sexual relations with their younger sisters or nieces.
As detailed in his plea agreement, a forensic analysis of the items seized from Bickling’s residence revealed a total of 21 images and 50 videos that depicted minors in sexually explicit conduct. The materials included depictions of prepubescent minors.
Bickling faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release, for coercion and enticement of a minor. U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled sentencing for August 10, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.
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.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who is prosecuting the case.