BLUEFIELD — A Princeton woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with another person to distribute child pornography, according to the United States Attorney for southern West Virginia.
Elizabeth Kaye Haway, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute child pornography, said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.
“Protecting our children is my highest priority,” Stuart said. “My office takes all Project Safe Childhood cases very seriously and prosecutes them to the fullest extent possible. That being said, even among those cases, this one stands out for the considerable degree of lifelong physical and mental trauma that Haway has inflicted on this young victim.”
Haway admitted that she began talking with codefendant Randall Peggs, of Wheeling, on Facebook in November 2018. Over the course of several months, Haway and Peggs conspired to distribute child pornography of Victim 1, a 5-year-old female child, according to court records.
The majority of their communications occurred on Facebook Messenger and conversations focused on Haway’s desires to touch and sexually violate Victim 1 while recording it to send to Peggs. Peggs encouraged Haway to record and send him nude videos of Victim 1 and told her that he would watch anything she sent him. Ultimately, Haway recorded a video of child pornography depicting a nude Victim 1 and sent the video to Peggs twice via Facebook in February 2019, according to federal court officials.
An investigation started on April 2, 2019 when Detective-Sgt. Steve Sommers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office responded to a cyber tip that was received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involving the distribution of child pornography through Facebook Messenger.
In his criminal complaint, Sommers said he reviewed the video file and it showed an adult male engaging in a sexual act with a prepubescent female child.
Sommers also discovered graphic messages between Haway and another Facebook user, according to the complaint. He then obtained and served a search warrant on Facebook, compelling them to disclose Facebook records for Haway.
“As I searched her Facebook records further, I found two video files that were approximately 3 minutes and 21 seconds (each) in length that had been sent to another Facebook user,” Sommers stated in the complaint. After viewing the video file that included audio, he saw that it showed an adult female with the prepubescent female engaging in sexual acts.
“I estimated the age of the child to be between 5 and 6 years of age,” Sommers said. “I also observed that the bathtub had distinct cracking of the molding at the wall and bathtub and that the adult female had a tattoo on her finger of a smiley face (two dots and a line).”
Sommers said he also found a third video “involving the adult male and same child,” which also showed a distinctive red and white shower curtain.
The video “depicted an at-risk child victim,” Sommers stated in the complaint.
Haway faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on Dec. 14, according to federal officials. She currently is serving a state prison sentence for first-degree sexual assault, sexual abuse and incest involving the same minor female child.
Peggs previously pleaded guilty on Aug. 3 to a federal child pornography charge arising out of this incident. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9.
This case was investigated by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force. Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Kristin F. Scott is handling the prosecution.
This case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
-— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com