Jacksonville, Florida – United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Mark Wesley Schmit (50, Jacksonville) to 20 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography. Schmit was also ordered to serve a 10-year term of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.
Schmit had pleaded guilty on August 2, 2019.
According to court documents, during the course of the investigation of an unrelated child exploitation case, the FBI learned that a particular individual had exchanged a series of text messages with Schmit. At one point during that conversation, that individual sent several explicit videos to Schmit, claiming that they depicted his 13-year-old sister. In response, Schmit requested that the individual send him additional graphic sexual videos of that purported child. Schmit then sent an image to that individual, which depicted an adult male sexually assaulting a young girl.
On April 16, 2019, FBI agents arrested Schmit pursuant to a federal arrest warrant. During an interview, Schmit admitted to sending and receiving child pornography, and that he had a sexual interest in looking at images of underage girls. Schmit also admitted that he had used a fictitious internet persona to portray himself as a teenage boy, for the purpose of meeting underage girls through social media. In some cases, Schmit had cultivated long-term online relationships with his victims so that he could solicit them to send him sexual images of themselves. A subsequent investigation revealed that Schmit had solicited and received sexual images from at least three underage girls. A forensic analysis of Schmit’s cellphone revealed that it contained at least five images depicting the sexual abuse of young children.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Jacksonville. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David B. Mesrobian.
This is another 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 Attorneys’ 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.