Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Donald Hildebrandt, 51, of Bel Air, Maryland, on federal charges of obstructing justice, producing child pornography and possessing child pornography.
The federal charges were announced by the Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Maryland State Police Superintendent; Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler; Lieutenant Paul Marziale of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office; Sergeant Dave Betz of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Director of the Harford County Children’s Advocacy Center; and Harford County State Attorney Albert J. Peisinger, Jr.
Hildebrandt is a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officer with the Baltimore City Police Department and is currently suspended without pay. According to court documents, on October 18, 2020, law enforcement received a complaint that Donald Hildebrandt was discovered in a room with an underage woman with his erect penis exposed. Another miner had reported the incident. During an interview with the Harford County Child Advocacy Center (CAC), one of the underage victims revealed that Hildebrandt exposed himself to her and demanded that she engage in sexually explicit behavior with him.
The indictment alleges that Hildebrandt attempted to obstruct justice by tampering with and withholding evidence. According to court documents, in January 2021, a witness informed an investigator that Hildebrandt had reset his tablet. Apparently, as alleged in previous court documents, a forensic examination of the previously seized tablet showed signs consistent with a factory reset. In Hildebrandt’s iCloud account, investigators allegedly discovered a web address to an anonymous communications network within Hildebrandt’s Notes app, which opened on a child pornography website. Apparently, the website allowed customers to anonymously purchase child pornography with cryptocurrency.
The indictment also alleges that Hildebrandt produced child pornography by placing a secret camera in a bathroom he knew to be used by three underage women. As alleged in the indictment, Hildebrandt positioned the camera to capture underage women coming out of the shower and drying themselves with towels. Hildebrandt is said to have created nude images of two prepubescent women. Hildebrandt is said to have owned at least two videos constituting child pornography, one of which is over two and a half hours long containing a compilation of many different cases of child abuse, including prepubescent minors who have been sexually abused.
If convicted, Hildebrandt faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for producing child pornography; a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography; and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for obstructing justice. The actual sentences for federal crimes are generally less than the maximum sentences. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was brought within the framework of the Safe Childhood Project, a national 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 Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood brings together federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information on the Safe Childhood Project, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information on Internet Safety Education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
An indictment is not a guilty verdict. An individual charged with an indictment is presumed innocent until proven guilty in subsequent criminal proceedings.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner praised HSI, Maryland State Police, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Harford County Children’s Advocacy Center and the Office of the Harford County State Attorney for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Loveland Jr., who is pursuing the federal case.
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