BOSTON – A Whitman man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with sexually exploiting children via a social media app.
Matthew Murphy, 22, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual exploitation of children. Sentencing is set for May 19, 2020. Murphy was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in March 2019 and has been in custody since.
According to the charging documents, the investigation began when law enforcement learned that Murphy, posing as a teenage girl, used a Snapchat account to extort nude photographs from a Massachusetts middle school boy. Agents obtained portions of the Snapchat account Murphy had created in the fake identity and uncovered evidence of similar extortion of dozens of other minors in the area. The indictment charges Murphy with using five separate Snapchat accounts to sexually exploit children.
The charges of sexual exploitation of children each provide for a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Jason Molina, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. The Whitman Police Department provided valuable assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti, Lelling’s Project Safe Childhood Coordinator and a member of the Major Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.