A San Francisco man appeared in federal court today facing charges of production, distribution and receipt of child pornography.
Prosecutors say Henry Muller, 32, video recorded intercourse with a 15 year old male he met on Grindr and solicited sexually explicit images of a nine year old boy. A search of electronic devices uncovered evidence Muller had engaged in sexual acts with other victims, including “a 13 to 14 year old”, as well as more than fifty videos and hundreds of photographs of child sexual abuse.
The court was told that the United Airlines employee, based at San Francisco International Airport, was a “significant flight risk” who had been mulling an escape bid to El Salvador in recorded phone calls made from jail.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson remanded Muller to custody pending a further hearing on August 31.
The allegations against Muller came to light during a child exploitation investigation conducted by San Mateo Sheriff’s Office in December 2022.
An 18 year old – described as an “uncharged subject” – told deputies that, as a 17 year old, he had met Muller via Grindr and had sex with him. Muller, he said, boasted to him that he had had “full on sex” with a 15 year old boy who, on being driven home, had had to be dropped off away from his house because police were present, having been called by the boy’s worried mother who was concerned for his welfare.
When detectives traced the 15 year old, they learned that the sexual contact occurred in July of 2022 and that the encounter was recorded. The boy was fearful that the video would be placed on the internet or otherwise shared. He told police that Muller had requested a “naughty” photograph of his nine year old brother and discussed him in a sexual context.
Police then raided Muller’s home in San Francisco, along with his vehicle and his United Airlines locker at San Francisco International Airport.
As a result of these searches 13 electronic devices were seized and later examined, in April 2023, by the FBI. They found “evidence that Muller had committed sexual acts with at least four minor victims, including a 13 to 14 year old,” 836 images and 65 videos of what is described by prosecutors as child sexual abuse material, plus chat logs which showed Muller’s sexual appetite for pubescent and pre-pubescent children.
An examination of Muller’s Samsung Galaxy A02 cellphone revealed four videos depicting Muller engaged in sexual acts with the 15 year old.
In one video, prosecutors say, Muller calls the boy “his little puppy”. In another Muller is captured telling a different minor that he was a “good f**king mutt” and a “good f**king doggy”. Chat logs uncovered Muller discussing wanting to bring the 18 year old uncharged subject’s 7 year old cousin in to his “puppy harem” and wanting him to wear the underwear of a 4 year old relative.
Chat logs also detailed Muller discussing adopting a son so that he could be abused and suggesting that a young boy could be drugged to prevent him from becoming a “snitch”.
Describing Muller as a “predator,” federal prosecutors pressed for him to be detained pending trial. They cited recordings of phone calls from the jail, where Muller described his sexual acts with minors as “no big deal” and “not a cardinal sin.”
They also labelled Muller a flight risk not least, they said, because he discussed with family members the possibility of obtaining a passport for El Salvador and moving there.
In 2020 Grindr, and three other dating application corporations, were investigated by a congressional committee following reports that apps allowed, or even encouraged, underage users to falsely claim they were 18 years old. Grindr has been asked to comment on whether and to what extent their procedures worked in this instance.
Muller faces two counts of producing child pornography, one count each of distributing and receiving child pornography. If convicted of the producing counts, he faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a potential maximum of 30 years. He remains in custody ahead of a further hearing on August 31.
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