St. Regis Falls man charged with sexually exploiting girl

A St. Regis Falls man faces 15 to 30 years in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a girl and distributing pornography of her.

Robert B. Fitzgerald, 81, was arrested Wednesday on a criminal complaint charging him with sexually exploiting a child, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

He appeared in court Friday for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary L. Favro, who ordered him detained.

U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Kevin Kelly, special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations’ Buffalo Field Office, announced the arrest.

Sold videos, images

Fitzgerald sexually exploited a girl for about three years, starting when she was 14 years old, the press release said.

He is also accused of photographing and recording the sexual abuse, then distributing and selling it to others.

According to the criminal complaint, the now 18-year-old victim reported the abuse to Malone-based State Police on Aug. 9.

She told police that, when she was 14, Fitzgerald told her she could make money modeling nude.

She estimated “that there were more than 100 pictures and videos of her naked dancing and acting out scenes directed by Fitzgerald.”

Fitzgerald used Craigslist, Twitter, WhatsApp and FaceTime to send the videos and images to people who would pay $50 to $200 for them, she told police.

Seized computer

The State Police Troop B Computer Crime Unit and HSI executed a search warrant at Fitzgerald’s residence on State Route 58 in St. Regis Falls the same day the victim made her statement.

They “seized various pieces of electronic evidence, including a Dell OptiPlex 9010 computer,” which Computer Crime Unit Investigator Robert Marciniak forensically analyzed, the complaint says.

Marciniak reportedly found videos of Fitzgerald sexually abusing the victim when she was 17 years old.

Along with prison time, Fitzgerald faces at least five years to lifetime post-imprisonment supervised release.

HSI and State Police are investigating the case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Kopita.