Disgraced former ABC News reporter James Gordon Meek — who traded “sadistic” child pornography content involving infants and toddlers — should get as much as 15 years behind bars at his sentencing later this week, federal prosecutors said.
Meek, 54, is set to be sentenced Friday in Virginia federal court after he pleaded guilty in July to transporting and possessing child sex abuse material — and has asked the judge for the minimum of five years in prison.
Federal guidelines recommend that Meek should get between 12 1/2 years and 15 years behind bars — which prosecutors argued is an appropriate range for his sentence as they detailed his sick acts in court papers.
“He clearly sought out individuals across the internet for the specific purpose of sharing (and expanding) his [Child Sexual Abuse Material] collection for his sexual gratification,” prosecutors Zoe Bedell and Whitney Kramer said in a filing from Friday.
He looked for kids online, “including by posing as a minor himself,” and was part of a chat group called “C–ks, C–ts, and Kids,” the filing states.
Meek’s slew of perverted acts also included using one underage girl’s “affection” for a public figure to convince her to send him “at least a dozen screenshots” of her breasts and pubic area, the court papers claim.
His phone had screenshots taken from messages exchanged with a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old of their breasts — and in the same chats, he is seen on video “naked and holding his penis in his hand,” the filing alleges.
Meek’s twisted tastes were wide-ranging, with his conduct spanning “multiple platforms and years” — up to almost a decade, the feds claimed.
Victims of child porn trafficking suffer even more than regular abuse victims because they continue to be victimized by the fact that the materials can exist on the internet indefinitely, the feds explained, emphasizing the seriousness of Meek’s crimes.
“A significant sentence of imprisonment is warranted to deter the defendant and others from engaging in this conduct in the future,” the prosecutors wrote.
Meanwhile, Meek’s lawyer, Eugene Gorokhov, asked for the lightest sentence possible, calling the guideline range “excessive,” according to partially redacted court papers filed Monday.
Meek’s lack of criminal history, the good deeds in his life and his remorse and total acceptance of responsibility all warrant leniency, Gorokhov wrote.
“Meek’s criminal conduct in this case is completely at odds with his proven personal values,” the lawyer wrote.
Meek — who is divorced — is the “doting father” of two daughters, ages 16 and 20, who have suffered “pain and embarrassment” from his actions.
He “has lost nearly everything,” with his reputation and financial well-being destroyed, his family being subjected to the scandal and many of his friends cutting ties with him, Gorokhov wrote.
Meek’s extensive coverage of the war on terrorism in the Middle East — including viewing photos and footage of war — came at a cost “in the form of his mental health,” Gorokhov wrote in a heavily redacted portion of court papers.
“It is notable that trauma has been found to lead to this type of emotional numbing, combined with an increased tendency towards impulsivity,” the lawyer wrote.
In child pornography cases, “individuals are reluctant to seek out help both because of the shame involved and the fear of legal consequences,” Gorokhov wrote.
The attorney noted that while that’s no excuse, it helps explain Meek’s conduct.
The shamed journalist resigned from ABC News and went off the grid immediately after the feds raided his Arlington, Va., home on April 27, 2022, seizing his electronics.
The judge overseeing Meek’s case will not be bound by the federal sentencing guidelines. But because of the recommendations, Meek is unlikely to get a sentence near the maximum of 20 years behind bars that he faces with his plea.
Meek was hired by ABC News in 2013 after working for the Daily News, where in 2006 he broke that al Qaeda’s plan to bomb New York City tunnels had been foiled.
He won an Emmy in 2017 for his breaking news coverage of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, and he investigated and produced Hulu’s acclaimed documentary “3212 Un-redacted” about a 2017 US special forces mission in Niger where four soldiers were killed.
He also served as a senior counterterrorism adviser and investigator for the US House Committee on Homeland Security beginning in 2011.