Sent Over 200 Text Messages to What He Thought Was a 9-Year-Old Girl
BALTIMORE—David Mitchell Rowe, age 65, of Linthicum, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to using a cellular telephone to coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr.; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
According to the plea agreement, in June of 2011, Rowe was a member of the swimming pool at a hotel in Linthicum, Maryland, where he befriended a 9-year-old girl, Jane Doe 1, who was spending time at the pool with her parents, who were staying at the hotel. Over the course of a few days, Rowe played games in the pool with Jane Doe 1, initially wrestling with Jane Doe 1 and later using his hand to touch Jane Doe’s vagina, over her bathing suit. On one occasion, Rowe exposed his penis to Jane Doe while she was underwater. On June 10, 2011, the day that Jane Doe’s family was scheduled to check out of the hotel, Rowe gave a small velvet bag to a lifeguard at the pool and asked the lifeguard to give the bag to Jane Doe 1. The lifeguard delivered the bag to the girl’s father. The bag contained a gold money clip with the name Dave engraved on it and the money clip held a folded picture of Rowe. On the back of the photo Rowe had written his address and phone numbers and requested that Jane Doe 1 “Write, Call, or Text please.”
Law enforcement was contacted and beginning on June 20, 2011, an undercover detective began a text message conversation with Rowe, assuming the identity of Jane Doe 1. The initial text message was, “Hi Mr. Dave remember me from the pool.” Rowe responded and continued to communicate with the detective, believing that the detective was Jane Doe 1, through June 23, 2011. In the text messages, Rowe said society would not allow them to be a couple, and that he would end up in jail. Rowe also discussed how he touched Jane Doe 1, and that he knew she was 9 years old. Rowe also described in detail sexually explicit activity in which Jane Doe 1 should engage, and further stated that he wanted to have sex with her and perform oral sex on her.
On June 22, 2011, Rowe arranged to meet with Jane Doe 1 the next day at a restaurant in Baltimore County, so that Rowe could perform oral sex on Jane Doe 1. On June 23, 2011, Rowe arrived at the restaurant parking lot and was placed under arrest. At the time of his arrest, Rowe had the phone he had been using to text message Jane Doe 1 (the detective). Rowe was driving a van, and the rear seats of the van were folded down, and a blanket and a pillow were spread out on the floor of the van.
After his arrest, Rowe admitted to law enforcement that he is sexually aroused by girls between the ages of 9 to 11 years old and disclosed that in the mid 1970s he molested an 11-year-old girl who was visiting his house, and that he exposed himself to the girl. Rowe also advised detectives that he molested a 9-year-old girl in 2011 when he was visiting the girl’s family in Texas. When law enforcement contacted them, both girls confirmed that Rowe had molested them.
As part of his plea agreement, Rowe must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Rowe faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison followed by up to lifetime of supervised release for use of interstate facilities to coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg did not yet set a date for sentencing.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide 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 Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the “resources” tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, Anne Arundel County Police Department; Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who prosecuted the case.