EXCLUSIVE: Youth baseball coach is first American out of 76 identified as pedophile trapped in global sting that rescued 400 children
- David Scott Engle, from Lake Lucerne, Washington, is believed to be the first US child sex offender officially identified as someone caught by investigators from Project Spade
- Last month MailOnline reported Engle, a divorce lawyer, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after amassing thousands of child pornography images
- He will now stand trial on child rape charges after investigators found dozens of videos of him allegedly sexually assaulting on two boys
- So far Project Spade has led to the rescue of 386 young children worldwide and the arrest of 348 people, among them nearly 80 American nationals
By WILL PAYNE
A youth baseball coach was exposed as a prolific pedophile in one of the world’s biggest ever child porn busts, it can be revealed today.
David Scott Engle is believed to be the first American child sex offender officially identified as someone caught by investigators from Project Spade.
Last month MailOnline reported Engle, a divorce lawyer from Lake Lucerne in Washington, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after amassing thousands of child pornography images.
The 50-year-old will now stand trial on child rape charges after investigators found dozens of videos of him allegedly carrying out sickening sexual assaults on two boys.
He was arrested in November last year when he was detected buying child pornography online, leading to the discovery that he had a collection of 450 images showing the clothed genitals of the boys he coached.
And MailOnline can for the first time reveal that he was caught after operatives from sweeping child pornography investigation Project Spade discovered his internet activity.
Members of the global team alerted local law enforcement who searched his home and a storage unit and discovered a stash of horrific home-made and purchased child pornography.
Last night Emily Langlie from the United States Attorney’s office told MailOnline: ‘Project Spade put him on the radar of law enforcement officers.
‘Then following the serving of warrants it became clear that Mr Engle was involved in not only the production of child pornography, but in child molestation against young victims.’
So far Project Spade has led to the rescue of 386 young children around the world and the arrest of 348 people, among them nearly 80 American nationals.
‘It is alleged that officers seized hundreds of thousands of videos detailing horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst that they have ever viewed,’ Toronto Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins said.
Police have revealed 108 people were arrested in Canada, 76 in the U.S and 164 in countries from Spain to South Africa and Australia. Forty school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, and more than 30 people who volunteered with kids were among those taken into custody.
The list of suspects also includes nine clergymen, six police officers and three foster parents. Police said the children were ‘rescued from child exploitation’ but did not give more details.
Beaven-Desjardins said the investigation began with a Toronto man accused of running a company since 2005 that distributed child pornography videos to the tune of $4million in revenue, CTV News reported.
Police allege Brian Way, 42, instructed people around the world to create the videos of children ranging from 5 to 12 years of age, then distributed the videos via his company, Azov Films, to international customers.
The videos included naked boys from Germany, Romania and Ukraine, which it marketed as naturist movies and claimed were legal in Canada and the United States.
The head of the Toronto police sex crimes unit told the Toronto Star that the X-rated images displayed ‘horrific acts of sexual abuse — some of the worst (officers) have seen.’
Police said they executed a search warrant at Way’s company and home, seizing about 1,000 pieces of evidence: computers, servers, DVD burners, a video editing suite and hundreds of movies.
Way was charged with 24 offences, including child pornography. Police also designated Azov Films as a criminal organization, charging Way with giving directions on behalf of a gang. TheAzovfilms.com website has been shut down.
And MailOnline can reveal Engle was part of the global network of paedophiles. Last month he was sentenced on federal child pornography charges but allegations that he raped one boy ‘countless’ times over six years remaining outstanding in state court.
The baseball coach for 11 and 12-year-olds had gone to great lengths to have contact with children, and amassed an extensive collection of child pornography featuring boys the same age as the ones he taught, the court was told.
Before his arrest, Engle had coached a youth baseball team, was president of Maple Valley Pony Baseball and Fast Pitch, served on two regional baseball organizations and one baseball business.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marci Ellsworth said the former coach abused the trust parents placed in him.
‘While [Engle] was purportedly serving as a role model and mentor for these young boys, he was sexually interested in them,’ Ms Ellsworth said in court papers.
‘When [he] was taking pictures and shooting video of baseball games, his camera was focused on the players’ crotches, not on their batting stance, pitching arms, or any other aspect of their athletic performance.’
Engle pleaded guilty in July to federal child pornography charges and admitted possessing hundreds of videos of children being sexually abused.
Now he has been sentenced on those charges, the child rape case can proceed with any state sentence following on from the 25-year term just handed to Engle.
King County prosecutors have charged him with three counts of child rape over allegations that he was shown raping a boy in several videos.
About 1,400 photos and 40 videos allegedly show Engle raping one boy, and three videos show abuse of a second child.
In one Engle filmed himself watching baseball on TV as the boy he was raping struggled and told him ‘No’. The assaults only stopped after his arrest.
‘This is a heart-wrenching betrayal of trust of the victims and the community,’ U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement.
Engle was caught after postal inspectors joined an international investigation into Azovfilms.com.
He spent $2,300 on videos and photos sent to him by the company between 2005 and 2011, according to Q13Fox, but when police raided his home they found child pornography well beyond the purchases he made from the website they had been investigating.
His ‘collection of child pornography consisted predominantly of young boys in the same age range as those [he] coached in youth baseball,’ Ms Ellsworth told the court.
She added: ‘[Engle] had many pictured of the boys he coached – including nearly 450 pictures of their clothed genital regions – which, although … not pornographic in nature, are nonetheless disturbing.’
His conviction is a significant result for Project Spade, which began in 2010 and worked with Interpol in more than 50 countries including Australia, Spain, Mexico, Norway and Greece.
More than 350,000 images and over 9,000 videos – about 45 terabytes – of child sexual abuse were found during the probe, and arrests are continuing.
Norwegian police spokesman Bjoern-Erik Ludvigsen said in a statement: ‘This operation shows that international police cooperation works. Despite large amounts of material and that this is time-consuming work, this shows that the Internet is not a safe haven for crimes against children,’
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said it began its investigation by accessing the company website and making undercover purchases.