Documents reveal that multiple Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staffers were involved in child sex crimes but never prosecuted.
Obtained by BuzzFeed News via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits going all the way back to 2012, the documents reveal that the CIA “amassed credible evidence” of staffers involved in child sex crimes over a 14-year period and pursued no criminal prosecution in an effort to protect sensitive and classified materials.
“Though most of these cases were referred to US attorneys for prosecution, only one of the individuals was ever charged with a crime,” noted Buzzfeed News. “Prosecutors sent the rest of the cases back to the CIA to handle internally, meaning few faced any consequences beyond the possible loss of their jobs and security clearances.”
“CIA insiders say the agency resists prosecution of its staff for fear the cases will reveal state secrets,” the report added.
Often, the employees were fired or had their contracts revoked, as opposed to criminal prosecution for sex crimes that involved children as young as two.
One employee had sexual contact with a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old. He was fired. A second employee purchased three sexually explicit videos of young girls, filmed by their mothers. He resigned. A third employee estimated that he had viewed up to 1,400 sexually abusive images of children while on agency assignments. The records do not say what action, if any, the CIA took against him. A contractor who arranged for sex with an undercover FBI agent posing as a child had his contract revoked.
Only one of the individuals cited in these documents was charged with a crime. In that case, as in the only previously known case of a CIA staffer being charged with child sexual crimes, the employee was also under investigation for mishandling classified material.
Neither the CIA nor the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where most criminal referrals were sent, responded to inquiries and instead issued vague statements about taking “all allegations of possible criminal misconduct committed by personnel seriously.”
BuzzFeed said it heard from CIA insiders that the agency will avoid criminal prosecution as much as possible to protect “sensitive information,” fearing that their testimonies could “disclose sources and methods.” One former official said the excuse simply does not fly, charging that the CIA needs to “figure out how to prosecute these people.”
The over 3,000 pages of documents obtained by Buzzfeed News covered a range of internal investigations at the CIA, all of which had names redacted for privacy purposes. Of the 10 cases discovered, five of the alleged perps were fired or resigned, four were referred to a personnel board or the Office of Security, and one was prosecuted in tandem with mishandling classified material.
The outcome of one case — in which 10 child sexual abuse images were discovered on a CIA computer that had been left unattended — is unknown. The employee to whom that device was assigned said he switched computers while he was overseas. He denied using it to view such material.
In an eleventh case, the inspector general received a complaint in November 2016 that an employee used a government computer to view child sexual abuse images. Although the investigators couldn’t corroborate the allegation, they discovered that he had shown a “consistent interest and pattern of [redacted] conversations involving sexual activities between adults and minors.”
The inspector general alerted security officials and the Directorate of Science and Technology because the accusation raised “potential security and accountability issues.” Details of how the case was resolved, and any penalties the employee faced, are redacted.