The deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Brian Doyle, was arrested at his Silver Spring, Maryland, home Tuesday night on charges of trying to seduce a child using a computer and transmitting pornographic materials.
Doyle, 55, believed he was talking to a 14-year-old girl but was actually exchanging messages with an undercover Polk County, Florida, sheriff's detective, according to The Associated Press.
"He graphically explained to a 14-year-old girl what he would like to do to her and what he would like her to do to him," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told ABC News.
Doyle, who worked in the department's public affairs office, made no attempt to hide his identity, apparently using his position at the agency in an attempt to impress the girl.
"He started his communication on the computer, clearly identified himself from the very beginning as Brian Doyle from the Department of Homeland Security, where he's a deputy press secretary," Judd said. Doyle gave the girl his office number and his government-issued cell phone number and spoke with the girl on the phone, asking her to buy a webcam. When he arrived home Tuesday night, thinking he was going to view her on the camera, he was met by police and arrested as he sat at his computer.
"He was shocked, to say the least," Judd said. "The whole goal was to catch him behind the computer so that when we executed the search warrant, we would see the communication from our undercover detectives to him on his computer. That's exactly what happened." Doyle cooperated with the arresting officers, admitting he liked "young girls." He is now in a Maryland jail cell.
DHS Press Secretary Russ Knocke issued a statement about the arrest, saying the department is fully cooperating in the investigation. "We take these allegations very seriously," Knocke said. "Doyle is in a nonpay status, and his security clearance, employee badge and facility access permissions have been suspended."
According to a DHS spokesperson, Doyle — who previously worked as an administrative assistant at Time magazine — is a civil employee and not a government appointee and he underwent the department's required background check.
The DHS's Immigrations and Customs Enforcement division has an ongoing program titled "Operation Predator," described on ICE's Web site as a "comprehensive initiative aimed at those who prey on and exploit children ... [and] Internet pornographers."
ICE's cyber crimes center also works closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and has two agents at the Center's headquarters, according to president Ernie Allen. "One of the things we focus on together is child pornography and Internet-based crimes against children," Allen said. "I'm beyond being surprised [by these kinds of arrests]. What we have learned in recent years is these kinds of offenders do not match society's stereotype of a dirty, menacing child molester. We have found doctors, lawyer, public officials, corporate executive and police officers involved in this behavior. These people look like the rest of us."
Police said Doyle found the fictitious teenager's profile online and started having sexually explicit conversations with her over the Internet on March 14, according to the AP. He sent her pornographic movie clips and nonsexual photos of himself, including one in which he appears to be at DHS headquarters, wearing a Homeland Security pin on his lapel and a lanyard that reads TSA (Transportation Security Agency).