A series of newly unsealed letters between the feds and attorneys for the arrested journalist James Gordon Meek revealed that a 16-year-old girl told investigators that Meek sexted with her despite her telling him she was underage.
Naked and partially naked photos of the teenager—that included her Snapchat username in the corner of the screenshots—were recovered from a phone during a raid of Meek’s home last year in Arlington, Virginia, the FBI wrote in an arrest affidavit filed in February.
The filings don’t outline how Meek and the teen first came into contact, or what their level of contact was, but said investigators discovered saved Snapchat messages between the two. Those messages did not include photos and weren’t the entirety of their conversations, however, the affidavit said.
Additionally, the Department of Justice wrote in a newly unsealed letter to Meek’s defense attorneys that the girl—referred to only as IDENTIFIED MINOR 2—told investigators in a recorded interview that she shared her age with Meek when she was still 16. It’s unclear how she went about telling Meek this or exactly how long they’d spoken for before she allegedly informed him of her age. The FBI said in their affidavit that the girl told investigators she felt “pressured” by an account believed to have belonged to Meek and from other men to send sexually explicit photos.
Meek, a former investigative producer for ABC News, stands accused of sharing extremely graphic child abuse fantasies and exchanging images and videos of such abuses with users on the messaging app Kik. The feds say they also recovered hoards of child porn on multiple phones, a hard drive and a laptop seized in the raid of Meek’s home, as well as screenshots of a Telegram group chat that seemed to center around child sexual abuse, explicit photos of himself shared with minors on Snapchat and Instagram, and Instagram messages in which he allegedly impersonated a minor.
The unsealed letters between the DOJ and defense attorneys provided the first insight into Meek’s forthcoming legal battle, which could end with the 53-year-old being sent to prison for up to 20 years if convicted on charges of transporting images of child sexual abuse.
In the filing, defense attorneys accused the DOJ of not sharing all of the evidence they’re entitled to review as part of discovery. They demanded the feds cough up more details on how and why they began investigating Meek, and asked for troves of other documents—like copies of everything seized from Meek’s home, all communication between the FBI and cops in Virginia, and much more.
The DOJ responded that they’d provided all materials they were legally required to, spilling some previously unreported details about the case in doing so. The feds wrote that they used no undercover tactics while probing Meek and that they have recorded interviews with “victims and potential victims in this case.”
The feds also claimed they don’t have to disclose information about what prompted Dropbox—where sexually explicit material involving a minor was allegedly first discovered on an account tied to Meek—to look at Meek’s private account in the first place.
The letters showed defense attorneys and the DOJ have clashed about other issues in the case. Meek’s attorneys claimed that prosecutors lied in a detention hearing when they argued against Meek’s pretrial release by alleging that he said his “life was over” as his home was raided.
“Mr. Meek never said any such thing,” his attorneys wrote. “The government thus made an argument that was simply false—whether through recklessness or otherwise.”
The feds denied lying about the comment.
The defense and DOJ also butted heads on whether the DOJ is legally required to release details about a probe into who leaked information about the case to Rolling Stone—who first reported on the FBI’s raid on Meek’s house but wrongly insinuated it was related to his work as an investigative journalist—and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA),who claimed in a tweet that “sources” said Meek was being probed for having child porn on a laptop.
“Illegal press leaks by members of the DOJ or FBI call into question the good faith and integrity of the government’s investigation and prosecution,” defense attorneys wrote, demanding that any info about a potential leaker be shared with them.
The feds responded: “The government has no materials responsive to any of its discovery obligations in this case to disclose related to this topic.”
The series of dueling letters were released Thursday as part of a motion to compel disclosure filed by the defense, which was settled by a judge who sided with Meek’s attorneys. The judge ordered the DOJ to hand over a slew of documents by April 27.
Those documents include the “facts and circumstances that led to Dropbox’s discovery of the files at issue,” as well all investigative documents about Meek obtained by law enforcement agencies in Virginia, the filter protocol memoranda of all devices seized from Meek’s home, and all information pertaining to the “unauthorized press leaks” about the investigation.
Source : The Daily Beast