A New York City police officer was arrested on child pornography charges on Thursday after he repeatedly posed as a teenager online to request and obtain sexually explicit photos and videos from at least 46 minors, federal prosecutors said.
The officer, Carmine Simpson, 26, was charged with production of child pornography in federal court in Long Island and suspended without pay. He is the latest in a string of officers on the city’s police force to be accused of sexual crimes involving minors.
Prosecutors say that Officer Simpson used Twitter to contact teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, often requesting that they create pornographic pictures and videos of themselves and send them to him. Officer Simpson told his targets that he was 17 years old and, in some cases, sent them pictures of himself to which he had applied a filter, making him look younger.
At his arraignment, a prosecutor, Megan E. Farrell, said that Officer Simpson had “engaged in a pattern of activity that went on for months online where he preyed on minors, grooming them, chatting with them, and essentially having them produce sexually explicit photos and images for himself.”
In those interactions, Officer Simpson is accused of having requested specific images. He is said to have frequently asked that his targets write lewd phrases — or his name — on their bodies in marker and send him the results. He also requested images and video of particular sex acts.
Prosecutors said the victims, mostly girls, sent him at least 33 videos and 18 images. In a number of instances, he encouraged his victims to harm themselves, including asking one 15-year-old to choke herself with a belt, according to court papers.
Prosecutors accuse Officer Simpson of having frequently interjected violent comments into his messages to the teenagers. He also mentioned to some of his victims that he liked to incorporate guns and knives into sex acts. “I mean you would look amazing with a knife held against your throat,” he wrote to one minor in August, according to court papers.
A lawyer for Officer Simpson, Todd Greenberg, declined to comment. At the arraignment, he said that his client had never been convicted of a crime, was not a flight risk and did not pose a danger.
A federal magistrate judge, A. Kathleen Tomlinson, ordered Officer Simpson held without bail at a hearing in Long Island. “I have to be concerned about children who may be exposed to what this defendant has a track record of doing,” she said.
Ms. Farrell emphasized that Twitter was only one of the platforms on which Officer Simpson seemed to be active. His conversations on that platform referred to Skype, FaceTime and Discord, all of which allow for video communication.
A Twitter account with the handle @CarmineSimpson was recently suspended permanently from Twitter. A spokesman for the company, Trenton Kennedy, said Twitter would not tolerate “any material that features or promotes child sexual exploitation.”
Officer Simpson, who lives with his parents in Holbrook, N.Y., faces a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted.
Sergeant Jessica McRorie, a spokeswoman for the Police Department, called the allegations “reprehensible.”
“The officer involved has been immediately suspended without pay,” the spokeswoman said. “The N.Y.P.D. has zero tolerance for any officer who would endanger children or betray his oath in such a manner.”
Officer Simpson joined the department in 2018 and worked in the 75th precinct in East New York, Brooklyn. He is one of more than a half-dozen officers who have been charged with sexual crimes against minors in the past two years alone.
In November, an officer, Shaun Frazier, resigned from the force after his third arrest on charges of sexual misconduct with children. In July, a school safety officer on the force, Jeanisidor Jean Baptiste, was arrested and charged with multiple crimes of sexual violence including rape and assault against a child.
In March, another officer, Yavier Julio, was indicted on child pornography charges after he was accused of texting video of a child being abused to another person. In February, Officer Timothy Martinez was charged with possession of child pornography, having been accused of buying images on social media, investigators said.
In September 2019, a detective whose work involved monitoring sex offenders, Juan Jimenez, was himself arrested and charged with felony sex abuse related to his conduct with a child. And the month before that, John Telesca, a patrol officer, was arrested and charged with crimes related to a possession of a stash of child pornography.
Dara E. Purvis, an associate dean at Penn State Law who has studied sexual violence by the police, said this kind of misconduct is vastly underreported.
Ms. Purvis said police officers have broad access to vulnerable people, like children and poor women, who are easy targets for exploitation and face a harder time being believed if they report abuse, she said.
“We don’t really have a great grasp on how big a problem it is, we just know that it is a significant problem and it’s worse than we realize,” she said.
Ashley Southall contributed reporting and Susan Beachy contributed research.