March 31, 2023
NEWARK, N.J. – A German man made an intial court appearance on Friday, March 24, 2023 on charges that he traveled to New Jersey for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Christian Stefan Walther, 38, of Erfurt, Germany, is charged by complaint with one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Walther is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward S. Kiel in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Law enforcement authorities have been investigating Walther since January 2023 for child exploitation offenses. Two undercover officers communicated with Walther via email, phone, and an encrypted messaging app concerning Walther’s desire for sexual encounters with young children. During the investigation Walther sent an undercover officer two videos, each of which depicted an adult male sexually assaulting a prepubescent female child. Walther also expressed his desire to engage in sexual conduct with children aged 8 to 12, and explained that he had lied to his friends in Germany about the purpose of his trip to the United States. On March 23, 2023, Walther traveled from Germany to New Jersey to meet the undercover officers in advance of what he believed would be a sexual encounter with one or more children at a hotel.
The charge of interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charge. He also thanked officers of the New Jersey State Police, under the leadership of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, for its assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Specht of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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