By Shereen Siewert
A 35-year-old Rhinelander cyber security expert and former Marine was indicted this week on federal charges related to soliciting a 13-year-old girl for sex, according to a news release from Acting U.S. Atty. Richard G. Frohling of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Paul S. Osterman, who owns a high speed internet company that serves the northwoods and is a former Marine with a master’s degree in cyber security, was indicted on May 25 by a federal grand jury on three counts. Osterman has extensive experience within the military’s special operations community.
Prosecutors say Osterman solicited the girl, who is from Illinois, on the MeetMe social media electronic app. Osterman was arrested in September in Oneida County, after four search warrants were served as part of the investigation.
Count one alleges that from July 3 through July 5, 2019, Osterman solicited the child for sex in exchange for money. Count Two alleges that during these same dates, Osterman used a facility and means of interstate commerce (MeetMe) to “persuade, induce, and entice the child to engage in illegal sexual activity,” while count three alleges that during these same dates, Osterman traveled in interstate commerce (from Wisconsin to Illinois) for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex with the child.
Counts one and two each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, while Count Three carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. If convicted of counts one and two, Osterman would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 and 10 years respectively.
All of the charges in the indictment carry additional possible penalties of up to a life term of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006, by the U.S. Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Oneida County Sherriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Abbey M. Marzick.