A former investigative producer with ABC News who was accused by federal authorities of receiving and possessing child sex abuse images admitted to the conduct in federal court this week.
On Friday, federal prosecutors in Virginia said James Gordon Meek, 53, admitted using an online messaging service to send and receive images of children engaged in sexual acts.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court earlier this year and made public in February allege Meek received and stored child pornography using the messaging app Kik installed on several older-model Apple iPhones.
Messages cited in the complaint show Meek communicating with several adults about sexual activity with children. In one profane conversation from early 2020, Meek told another person that it was his “dream” to rape a female toddler. During that conversation, he reportedly received a video of someone engaged in a similar act, and later sent a video along the same lines, according to the complaint.
Meek’s online activity continued along this line for several months, and apparently went unnoticed until he tried to store child pornography in a Dropbox account that was linked to his e-mail address. The images triggered an alert at Dropbox, which uses software to identify potential materials related to the sexual abuse of children.
Dropbox filed a tip with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which alerted the FBI. Federal agents were able to connect the Dropbox account to Meek, and a raid on his home turned up several laptops, phones and other computer-related devices that allegedly contained numerous images of child sex abuse and conversations between Meek and other people.
Federal authorities searched Meek’s home last April, and he took a leave of absence from ABC News.
The raid on Meek’s house was first noted in an article published by Rolling Stone last year, which suggested the search was somehow connected to Meek’s work as an investigative reporter covering various security-related matters. It was later revealed that the magazine’s editor, Noah Shachtman, knew Meek was being investigated on child pornography charges, but worked to cover up those details because he had a personal connection with the journalist. The cover-up was exposed by NPR earlier this year.
Meek has been living with his mother since the criminal case began. He no longer works for ABC News, and an earlier book deal with Paramount Global’s Simon & Schuster has been cancelled, according to people familiar with the matter.
Meek faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, but his actual sentence will be determined based on a variety of factors, including any prior criminal history and his willingness to cooperate with investigators. Under the law, he must be sentenced to at least five years in prison for possession of child pornography.