Fort Lauderdale, Florida US: A youth group leader at a South Florida mosque pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two child pornography charges with federal authorities saying he admitted making a sexually explicit video of a 14-year-old group member.
Umair Tayyab Sheikh, 23, is being held in federal custody without bond after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow determined earlier this month that he was a serious flight risk and a potential danger to the community.
Sheikh acknowledged he made a video of a teenage boy from his group masturbating, but denied sharing it with anyone, according to federal authorities. Sheikh allegedly told FBI agents that he made the recording at the boy’s request and only watched it when the boy came to his Cooper City home, court records show.
The name of the mosque Sheikh had been attending is not listed in court records.
The investigation into Sheikh began in September when a FBI special agent tasked with rooting out child pornography pinpointed a computer that was actively sharing illicit images. Authorities were able to determine the computer was in the home that Sheikh shares with his parents and siblings.
FBI agents searched the house on Dec. 20, but Sheikh was in Pakistan getting married. FBI agents met him when his plane arrived Jan. 5 at Miami International Airport.
Sheikh admitted there was child pornography on the computer at home as well as the laptop and phone he had with him, according to the FBI. He allegedly said he preferred viewing videos of girls between 12 and 15 years old, wrote Snow in her order detaining Sheikh.
A Fort Lauderdale federal grand jury indicted him last week on two criminal charges—distribution of child pornography and possession of a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. If he is convicted of the two charges, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
One of Sheikh’s attorneys, Joaquin Mendez, said Tuesday it was too early in the proceedings for him to comment on the case.