09/19/2019 | Press release | Archived content
PHILADELPHIA - On Sept. 19, the First Assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced, that a St. Petersburg, Florida, man, was sentenced to 180 months' imprisonment, and lifetime supervised release by a United States District Judge for child exploitation offenses which occurred in Philadelphia.
'The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous offense,' said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Philadelphia. 'This joint investigation with the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit, Collingswood Police Department and Camden County Prosecutor's Office Special Victims Unit demonstrates HSI's commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to bring perpetrators to justice.'
Liam Heim, 23, in early 2018, while living in Florida, started an online forum on the messaging service Discord, through which he met a 12-year-old girl living with her parents in southern New Jersey. Heim groomed his seventh-grade victim to believe that they were in a romantic relationship, eventually convincing her to meet with him in person so that he could sexually assault her. On March 29, 2018, Heim flew from Florida to Philadelphia, picked up the victim in southern New Jersey, and brought her to a hotel near the airport in Philadelphia where he repeatedly sexually assaulted her over the course of an approximately 36-hour period before the victim was recovered by authorities and Heim was arrested. The defendant ultimately pled guilty to charges of traveling in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and transportation of a minor in interstate commerce with intent to engage in unlawful sexual activity.
'The harm caused by any child exploitation is devastating and long-lasting,' said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. 'And in this case, the conduct wasn't limited to online communications - this defendant followed through, traveled here from out-of-state, and actually assaulted a young and vulnerable child. There can be no doubt that our children and our community are safer now that this defendant is off the street. We stand ready with our federal and local partners to identify and prosecute all those who would prey upon minor children.'
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
The case wase prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth M. Schlessinger.