Youth Football Coach Accused of Sexually Abusing Children
We expect that coaches of youth sports will treat children with respect and follow all applicable laws when around them. It can be frustrating and shocking to hear of a coach engaging in misconduct, particularly when the act is something so illegal and immoral like child pornography.
On March 18, 2021, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office arrested a former youth sports coach and charged him with four counts of sex abuse of minors. Mr. Moshe Michael Imel, 50 was charged with sexual abuse of a minor house/family, incidents that allegedly happened on Jan. 1, 2019, and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor - continued course of conduct in 2012 and 2013. Imel was held without bond following his arrest. A district court judge later set bail at $500,000, and a preliminary hearing on the charges was scheduled for April 16, 2021, in district court.
A search and seizure warrant was executed on Imel’s home. Imel and an unidentified male teenager, who is also allegedly a victim, were both at the home. The youth was remanded to the custody of the Department of Social Services. A search of Imel’s residence yielded cameras, electronics, and extensive computer equipment. Various sexual products were also found in the house, according to police.
“Investigation revealed two victims came forward to report historical offenses, from 2009 to present,” a sheriff’s office press release stated. According to charging documents, one of the victims told investigators he first met Imel in 2009 when the defendant was the coach of the Patuxent Rhinos Football League (located in Upper Marlboro) and the victim was 9 years old. The victim stated that Imel became a father figure to him. The statement of probable cause filed by Detective Michael Mudd stated that the close relationship began to change and gradually became sexual and over time, more aggressive. “The victim was unable to provide a number on the sexual assaults that he experienced at the hands of Imel,” Mudd stated. The second victim told police he first met Imel in 2011 when he was 11 years old. The two met at James Madison Middle School in Prince George’s County. He was also a football player for the Patuxent Rhinos. Both victims transferred to and played football for Northern High School, where Imel coached. “Both victims described Imel to use various electronic devices in the molestation,” Mudd stated.
Documents on file in district court describe at least three occasions when young boys were lured into Imel’s home and allegedly abused by the defendant, who demanded sexual pleasure as repayment for his providing of food and money to the youths.
Kristen Leitch, a spokesperson for the Calvert sheriff’s office, said that “nine additional potential victims have come forward. The [potential] victims contacted Prince George’s County Child Protective Services and our agencies are working together to determine which jurisdiction the offenses took place, and then interviews will begin.”
As of November 11, 2021, a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Moshe Michael Imel, age 51, of Owings, Maryland, with five counts of production of child pornography involving two minor victims. Imel will have an initial appearance in the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt at a later date. Imel remains detained on separate State charges.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans; and Calvert County State’s Attorney Robert Harvey.
According to the five-count indictment, during two months in 2018, Imel persuaded, enticed, and coerced Victim A to engage in sexually explicit conduct in order to produce images documenting the sexually explicit conduct. Similarly, the indictment alleges that on three occasions during one month in 2020, Imel enticed and coerced Victim B to engage in sexually explicit conduct in order to produce images documenting the sexually explicit conduct of Victim B.
Law enforcement believes there may be other victims. Please report suspected sexual abuse to HSI’s tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. You can also reach out to a private detective with Legal Eye Investigations, LLC. at (410)921-5804.
If convicted, Imel faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each of the five counts of production of child pornography. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the HSI, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, and the Calvert County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph R. Baldwin and Kristi N. O’Malley, who is prosecuting the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-childhood and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.