DOJ Charges James Gordon Meek with Transporting Child Sexual Assault Material

Back in October, I commented on a Rolling Stone article describing the search, in April 2022, of reporter James Gordon Meek’s residence in Virginia. I noted that given how he and his attorney were acting, it was likely this search wasn’t an improper intrusion into his journalism.

[H]is attorney is quoted, complaining that this story is out there.

“Mr. Meek is unaware of what allegations anonymous sources are making about his possession of classified documents,” his lawyer, Eugene Gorokhov, said in a statement. “If such documents exist, as claimed, this would be within the scope of his long career as an investigative journalist covering government wrongdoing. The allegations in your inquiry are troubling for a different reason: they appear to come from a source inside the government. It is highly inappropriate, and illegal, for individuals in the government to leak information about an ongoing investigation. We hope that the DOJ [Department of Justice] promptly investigates the source of this leak.”

Meek’s lawyer, at least, is not trying to generate the kind of media attention that would immediately raise questions about his treatment as a journalist the way — say — Project Veritas’ lawyers did when James O’Keefe and others were searched. If he had concerns about Meek’s treatment or the propriety of the search, I highly doubt he would respond this way, by complaining that the search was made public.


All of which suggests there’s something about this story — or perhaps follow-ups — that led Meek and Epstein to withdraw.

Today, EDVA described what that thing is: Charges against Meek for transportation of Child Sexual Abuse Material from North Carolina to Virginia in 2020.

The affidavit is available on CourtListener; it is graphic enough I want make sure you click twice before accessing it. It covers material spanning from 2014 through 2020. It describes CSAM, including CSAM involving toddlers, found on an iPhone 8 found next to Meek’s door, CSAM found on the hard drive storing his iPhone back-ups, CSAM on an Apple laptop next to the couch, and CSAM on an iPhone 6 stored next to his bed. Two minor victims were described in the affidavit.

The arrest, however, was only for transportation of the iPhone 8, along with the CSAM, from North Carolina to EDVA on February 28, 2020.

15. Travel records and evidence from the iPhone 8 indicate that from February 24, 2020, to February 28, 2020, MEEK was located in the area of Charlotte, North Carolina and/or Rock Hill, South Carolina. American Airlines records demonstrate that MEEK traveled on a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, within the Eastern District of Virginia, on February 28, 2020, at 12:57 PM.

16. Evidence from the iPhone 8 indicates that MEEK carried this phone with him during his travel from North Carolina to Virginia. For example, text messages recovered from the phone indicate it was used to send several text messages throughout the period of MEEK’s travel. Among other evidence, the phone contained a message dated February 26, 2020, MEEK texted a friend that he was in South Carolina, as well as messages dated February 28, 2020, in which MEEK discussed going to the airport, as well as MEEK’s messages to family members coordinating their joining him at his residence in Virginia that evening.

17. Additionally, on or about October 25, 2021, Kik provided records related to the Pawny4 account that indicated that the device used to access the Pawny4 Kik account was an iPhone. Kik also provided IP addresses used to access the account during the relevant time frame. From between February 24, 2020, and approximately 12:52 PM UTC on February 28, 2020, open-source information indicates the IP addresses geolocated to locations in North and South Carolina. The next IP address used to access the Pawny4 Kik account several hours later geolocated to Arlington, Virginia.

DOJ could have charged — still could charge — Meek far more aggressively than they did.

It took DOJ a good deal of time to charge a man they had evidence was abusing minors.

According to the affidavit, DropBox submitted a tip to NCMEC on March 11, 2021 about five videos uploaded to the service. The search warrant, covered by the Rolling Stone story, was executed on April 27, 2022. FBI obtained a search warrant for Meek’s iCloud on November 14, 2022 (after the Rolling Stone story). And yet Meek was still arrested on a complaint, not an indictment, 22 months after the original tip.

The affidavit also made sure to make it clear how little distance Meek put between his family and the CSAM (the Rolling Stone piece quoted a neighbor describing the amount of time he spent with his two young daughters). In addition to the reference to arranging details with his family, above, the affidavit describes how he allegedly went, in the span of two hours, from fantasizing with someone about raping her when she was 12 to using the same phone to talk to family.

34 replies
  1. Rugger_9 says:

    It would appear from the post that Meek’s phone material had been already confirmed externally (i.e. the sites accessed) because otherwise he’ll claim it’s planted or his phone was used as a bouncing point. It’s harder to do that when point to that phone is talking to the outside world.

  2. Anathema Device says:

    “an iPhone 8 found next to Meek’s door”

    Does this mean it was on the floor?

    I don’t understand why he’s not being charged with the possession of CSAM as well, unless that has to be a state charge.

    However they do it, he needs to go away for a long, long time. Creep.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes, please. Governments are obligated to prove their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, in open court, subject to cross examination and appeal.

        Otherwise, some DeSantis or Gym Jordan type will say that accusations are enough, something a few Goopers are already doing with less rage-inducing crimes. It fits with the fascist thing.

        In extreme cases, less scrupulous corporate and government actors have been known to make accusations of drug, financial and sexual abuse crimes to tarnish witness credibility. Nothing suggests that’s remotely in play here.

        • Peterr says:

          Yes, he’s not guilty until the gavel comes down in court, but that affidavit is pretty damn clear. There is an abundance of documentary evidence, not he said/she said verbal accusations.

          I suspect there is a fair amount of conversation between DOJ and Meek’s lawyer that started with something like this from the DOJ: “You can read the affidavit, and you can see how much we have on your client. He is guilty, and we’re ready to prove that in court. We’ve only charged a little bit of what we can prove he has done, and we are ready to charge and prove a helluva lot more. Of course, if your client can help us identify and bring down others involved in these crimes, we are willing to take that into account when we make sentencing recommendations.”

      • Anathema Device says:

        Of course.

        There could be a perfectly innocent explanation for the presence of CSAM on all these devices in his possession.

        He might even get off on a technicality, like the bastard being buried in Australia today. Pell was still a child abuser, even if he wasn’t convicted again before he died.

        Meek still needs to go away* somewhere he can’t hurt any more kids. Innocent in a court of law doesn’t mean he did nothing wrong.

        *Prison, hospital for treatment, an adults only resort, a desert island…I’m not picky.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, “technicality” is basically lazy politics speak for “that darned constitution (state or federal) is in the way”. Spare me.

        • Anathema Device says:

          I suggest you look at the Pell case before you mock me too hard. It’s an utter travesty.

          If you don’t like the word “technicality”, then so be it. You know what I meant. Being able to escape conviction does not mean the accused did nothing wrong.

          And before you jump all over me that comment, this isn’t a theoretical issue for me. I have three close family members, two of them siblings, who were all sexually assaulted as children. Only one saw his attacker brought to court – but the police made a mistake in their charge (using an out of date statute), and the trial was aborted. The victim couldn’t face going through a second trial, so it never happened

          The accused in that case is “technically” innocent, sure. That’s how the law works. He’s still a rapist. Bill Cosby is still a rapist, even though the conviction was overturned for reasons other than him not being proved to be one. Kyle Rittenhouse is a murderer. It’s not playing politics to say that.

          The law is there to stop vendettas and anarchy. It’s got very little to do with moral justice, and was never intended to.

          You are perfectly clever enough to understand the distinction I’m trying to make, so please accept that I am clever enough to understand the point you are making.

        • bmaz says:

          Am sorry about your family members. But your comments are making people here dumber. It is not a matter of one word or another, but “technicality” is always a tell. Stop with that.

        • Peterr says:

          Cardinal Pell avoided legal accountability because of the law. In that sense — and ONLY in that sense — was he not guilty.

          Whether you call that a technicality or something else, his actions (and his inactions) remain what they are: despicable.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          To your point, the law, imperfect as it is, represents a floor, not the ceiling of acceptable behavior. Social and political consequences are essential.

        • Anathema Device says:

          “the law, imperfect as it is, represents a floor…of acceptable behavior”

          I don’t accept that either.

          There is plenty of behaviour which is immoral (e.g. infidelity, lying), obnoxious (loudly arguing with your spouse or other people in public, screaming abuse at your kids), or terrifying (open carry, setting off private fireworks), which is completely legal, at least in some jurisdictions.

          And stuff which can be illegal but which has no moral implication (e.g. drug use or possession, being homeless) or which is even virtuous (e.g. protesting).

          The law is no worthwhile guideline for acceptable behaviour, only to what your government finds troubling or annoying. It’s a separate system to deal with separate ills, which may or may not also be the ills that moral people find acceptable, and its criminal remedies have very little or nothing to do with justice for individuals.

        • bmaz says:

          Nobody gives a shit what you “accept”.

          And, Papa, don’t preach morality here. That will not work. You are going to time out.

  3. Silly but True says:

    It’s important to understand this originated with Dropbox itself which has systems in place to guard against being used in this manner.

    As horrible as all of this is, it is nice to see an internet company actually having safeguards and them actually working when needed.

    • emptywheel says:

      This is the counterpoint to all the very good privacy arguments when Apple and others move to make device content completely inaccessible to cloud providers. All providers will scan for known CSAM. But as providers like Apple and Facebook move to encrypt more of it, fewer victims will be identified.

      • CXJ_02FEB2023_1634h says:

        Apple has proposed more than one technical solution to their own encryption by scanning for CSAM on their own devices and in their own cloud services. It would be wrong to advocate regulating encryption to stop CSAM. That rodeo already happened back in the 1980s and 1990s. Recommend reading Eva Galperin’s writings on the subject for education.

        Facebook should be just be broken up ala Ma Bell. They’ve repeatedly demonstrated themselves to be dishonest and untrustworthy when it comes to privacy and security.

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Your current username “CXJ” is too short; it will be temporarily changed to include date/time of your first comment. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  4. Peterr says:

    From the Rolling Stone article:

    And no one straddled both worlds [the national security community and the journalism community] quite like Meek, an Emmy-winning deep-dive journalist who also was a former senior counterterrorism adviser and investigator for the House Homeland Security Committee.

    Per wiki and an ABC press release announcing his hiring, Meek was a journalist in NY before joining the HHSC staff in 2011, and then joined ABC in 2013. He’s certainly not the first journalist to jump back and forth between covering the govt and being part of it.

    The post about the arrest includes this nugget:

    Details in the story suggest Meek responded to the search differently than Project Veritas in other ways, too. He appears to have moved.

    In the raid’s aftermath, Meek has made himself scarce. None of his Siena Park neighbors with whom Rolling Stone spoke have seen him since, with his apartment appearing to be vacant.

    He withdrew from a project recounting the rescue of former US intelligence partners in Afghanistan around the time of the search.

    “He contacted me in the spring, and was really distraught, and told me that he had some serious personal issues going on and that he needed to withdraw from the project,” Mann tells Rolling Stone. “As a guy who’s a combat veteran who has seen that kind of strain — I don’t know what it was — I honored it. And he went on his way, and I continued on the project.”

    Mann says he hasn’t heard from Meek since.

    This may explain at least *part* of why the delay in arresting Meek. The other part is likely in footnote 1 of the affidavit filed with the court: “The usernames used throughout this affidavit are known to law enforcement but are
    omitted to protect the integrity of ongoing law enforcement investigations.”

    The DOJ is trying to track down where the CSAM stuff came from as well as where else it might have gone, and did not want to broadcast the arrest for fear of spooking their prey. Those folks might *think* that the Feds are on to them, but until arrest and indictment were made public, they wouldn’t know for sure. The longer time goes by and no one knocks on the door, the more they might feel they are safe. People who don’t know whether or not they are in danger, or who feel liked they cheated the cops, can do all kinds of things to expose themselves, and DOJ may have been stalking them to see if that would happen.

    I’m sure there were lots of discussions about how long to wait before pulling Meek in like this. You want to roll up the whole crew of abusers, but the longer you wait, the more likely it is that more kids get abused.

    The other reason for the delay likely had to do with simply tracing Meek’s comms, and getting access to his devices and accounts. For instance, they didn’t get a warrant for his iCloud account until November 14 (affidavit p.8).

    In addition, they did interviews with witnesses, including folks like “UNIDENTIFIED MINOR 2”, and those kinds of things take time — not just time to find the witnesses, but time to also figure out how best to approach them and their parents/guardians. You want these folks to be willing to talk to you, and if necessary, a jury, and you don’t want them freaked out or so broken apart that they can’t help you make the case in court. You don’t want to be accused of “planting” a story with a kid, so you have to carefully encourage them to tell their story without coaching and prompting. This takes a special kind of investigator.

    And folks, Marcy was not kidding about the content of the affidavit. Seriously. Think twice before reading it.

    • greenbird says:

      thanks, P.
      considering having just read this my limit has been reached for now, so i will take your advice. (notice the time i’m writing.)

      but i will read this post later, so the preparation is appreciated. i may share, too. and here i am, Feb 1/2, three platforms, two browsers, and far far more than i can come close to handling. i don’t have what some of you guys have to be able to keep up and up and up. and marcy is — just a treasure.

    • emptywheel says:

      On the ongoing investigation, those people (at least one of whom is female!) already know who they are. But I’m sure one reason DOJ has charged this like they did is to invite Meek to enter into a plea agreement. Indeed, I assume they were already in discussion with his lawyer; Eugene Gorokhov remains his lawyer, and Meek (who of course knows his way around criminal prosecutions) would have known once he got the warrant what the subject of the investigation is. Plus, part of that discussion leading up to today would have been about avoiding the shame of having this affidavit out there publicly, particularly the tie between his alleged actions and his arrangements to spend his time with his own daughters.

      DOJ has to have investigated the possibility — one not ruled out by this affidavit — his own daughters were victimized.

      • Peterr says:

        So you’re saying that releasing the affidavit is ramping up the pressure to sign a plea agreement, along with the minimal charging (thus far)?

        • bmaz says:

          Let’s hope not, because that should never be how criminal prosecutions are played. Meek and his atty have presumably known about it from the start. Any pressure is internal.

        • emptywheel says:

          bmaz notwithstanding, yes, I think so. I think with a defense attorney involved from the start, DOJ will attempt to negotiate a pre-charging settlement, and then a pre-indictment settlement, which is where we’re at, before indictment and then trial. Partly because of the work involved, partly bc the more you put in paper, the less flexibility DOJ has.

          Here, if they’re hoping to flip him–say, against the other people in his affy–they’d like him to flip before they charging him with 100 counts of CSAM, to lower the benefit that his cooperation can be said to have had.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Peterr, I wish I could bold the strong wording of your warning about the Meek affidavit. Regardless of how worldly, inured, or experienced you might be, the details included *will* rend your soul, and may traumatize. For those with a personal history of childhood abuse, like me: expect to find yourselves beyond “triggered.”

      Cases like this one demonstrate exactly why cheap accusations that drag queens are grooming our kids by reading books to them don’t just miss the point–they obliterate its meaning. I’m curious indeed as to whether Meek abused his own children. Hunting for “stranger danger” and drag queens to demonize obscures the reality of child abuse; most often it happens at the hands of someone you know and thought you could trust.

      • Jenny says:

        Well said. Yes, most sexual assault victims are acquainted with their attacker. I am sorry for your childhood abuse. Thank you for pointing out trauma and triggers from past abuse. Sexual assault victims regardless of age or gender experience trauma and triggers. Self help and self care are vital in healing. Recovery is a process of care, compassion and love.

      • solong tinman says:

        Ginevra –
        I have found a great amount of support and radical acceptance from the work of Vancouver therapist, writer and lecturer Dr. Gabor Mate’.
        When a child is wounded before they have the words to talk about the wounding – that is the continuing trauma.

        Are you familiar with a recent film of his, THE WISDOM OF TRAUMA? Or his book, IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS?

        • solong tinman says:

          . . . and if you’re a kid/child/toddler, who do you talk to about the abuse? No one.

          Fighting your way down to put feelings to those experience is never “going backward.” It is the new forward.

          I’m paraphrasing someone here, and can’t recall the source so I can give credit for their sane wisdom: “Sometimes it is enough to see the sword that fits into the wound.”

          For a haunting, tender treatment of that unrecognized childhood sexual abuse rippling out over lives, see this short story by Alice Munro. When I read it nine years ago the “lights came on” and the three beers left in the fridge stayed there until I moved. And when I packed to move they stayed full, unopened, reminders.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Thanks, Peterr. And thanks to all who’ve suggested avenues for dealing with such trauma. They will reach many others yet unfamiliar with Mate, whose “sword” quote has served me beautifully in the direst moments.

  5. iamevets says:

    Thank you for that Peterr, i think you encapsulated a number of issues very well. And yes i read the affidavit–thinking since i’ve worked with child welfare and other youth for over 35 years (and hence child sexual abuse victims and their abusers and many who were both) that i always think I’ve heard and seen it all before (of course one has never seen or heard it all, ever). But jeez i agree with the warning before one reads this. It is disturbing.

    So many questions about who the fellow predators are, and the familial relationship of the victims. Lots of therapy needed but what a distorted reality they were dealt. Having their story blasted for all the world to see will be another trauma. One hopes they get the support they will need. And one hopes the authorities here were thoughtful and put proper supports for them in place before announcing this to the world.

  6. The Old Redneck says:

    If they’re showing restraint with Meek so far, it sure sounds like they may be after bigger fish. This is really distasteful stuff, so why else not throw the book at him right away?

  7. Jazz Handler says:

    It is just baffling, if also quite fortunate, that someone with his professional knowledge and experience could be so incredibly sloppy. I mean, I seem to have way better OpSec than he did, and don’t even do anything shady!

  8. Savage Librarian says:

    From a scientific point of view (one technical and one not so much):

    “Acquired Pedophilia: international Delphi-method-based consensus guidelines” | Translational Psychiatry – 1/18/23
    “A final remark is important. As already stated within the introduction, pedophilia and other paraphilias remain the only psychiatric disorders within the DSM-5 that do not include the following diagnostic criteria:”

    “the symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical conditions” [2].

    “Given the evidence now available [10, 60], including the current paper, we consensually suggest that this criterion should be added to the pedophilia section in the next DSM edition. Future research is needed to understand whether the concept of acquired pedophilia could be extended to “acquired paraphilias”.

    “To conclude, this article provides a comprehensive description of issues that may be of interest to psychiatrists, neurologists and forensic experts with regard to approaching such a delicate topic. Importantly, we strongly recommend promoting the translational implementation of the recommendations proposed in this consensus statements to other professionals working in different, complementary fields, such as judges and lawyers.”

    “Are Pedophiles Born or Made?” – John Parrington Ph.D., 6/18/21, Reviewed by Devon Frye

    “Both nature and nurture combine in a complex way in the genesis of a pedophile.”

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