June 28, 2023
TRENTON, N.J. – A Louisiana man was charged with using an internet-based chat application to entice an adolescent to engage in prohibited sexual activity, interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual activity with a minor, and possession of child pornography, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Spencer W. Caudle, 34, of Prairieville, Louisiana, is charged by complaint with one count each of persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a minor through a facility of interstate commerce into prohibited sexual activity; interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit conduct with a minor; and possession of child pornography. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Rukhsanah L. Singh in Trenton federal court on June 27, 2023, and was detained.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In April 2023, Caudle began interacting on online social media applications with the victim. Caudle’s communications with the victim were sexual in nature despite the victim informing Caudle the victim’s minor status. Caudle even expressed nervousness about being on the television show “To Catch a Predator,” but continued informing the victim of his desire to have sex with the victim. On May 26, 2023, Caudle drove from Louisiana to meet and have sex with the victim in Toms River, New Jersey. On May 27, 2023, Caudle, in fact, committed sexual acts on the victim. Later that night, Caudle left New Jersey to drive back to Louisiana.
Local law enforcement became aware of Caudle’s prohibited sexual activity with the victim and began an investigation. In June 2023, an undercover law enforcement officer assumed the victim’s online and cellular presence and communicated with Caudle. During these conversations, Caudle confirmed his prior sexual acts with the victim and expressed a desire for further sexual activity. While communicating with the undercover officer, Caudle made plans to fly to New Jersey on June 16, 2023, to commit additional sexual acts on the victim.
On June 16, 2023, Caudle flew from New Orleans, Louisiana to Newark Liberty International Airport. Law enforcement arrested Caudle in the airport. A search of a laptop Caudle brought to New Jersey revealed at least 10 images and five videos of child sexual abuse.
The charge of persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a minor into prohibited sexual activity through an internet-based chat application carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. The charge of interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit conduct with a minor carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The charge of possession of child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Atlantic City, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel in Newark; the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer; and the Toms River Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Mitchell A. Little, with the investigation leading to the complaint.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard G. Shephard of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Andrea Bergman Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton