A Southeast Washington pediatrician has been charged with possession of pornography depicting children, officials said.
Robert Paul Dickey, 73, who runs his medical office out of his home, was charged after FBI agents who arrived at his office on May 8 found him on a computer looking at a website that features child porn. He was held without bond and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 23.
News of Dickey’s arrest sent shock waves through the area as parents of patients feared that he may have taken pictures of their children. Authorities said there is no evidence that Dickey had taken or possessed images of children he had worked with in his decades-old practice.
@DezilagelZsaZsa, who indicated she was a former patient, tweeted of the popular pediatrician: “Young OMG I Know Everybody Went to Dr. Dickey Smh…He Used To Give Me All The Stickers..I Wonder…”
According to information posted online, Dickey has practiced for about 40 years.
The website vital.com said Dickey was affiliated with two practices in California where recorded messages on telephone lines indicated they were no longer in business. It also stated that he was affiliated with Children’s National Medical Center, but a spokeswoman for the hospital said he is not on staff there.
“He refers patients to Children’s,” said hospital spokeswoman Paula Darte. “I don’t think he’s been on site. He has the ability to refer people here…Most of the pediatricians in the D.C. area refer patients to us when they have complex needs or acute care needs.”
The charging document in the case details the events that led to the arrest of Dickey after safeguards set up to protect children caught him in a snare intended for child predators. The document said that around April 10, police received a “cyber tip” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children based on information that agency had been provided by Microsoft Corp. The tip provided to authorities indicated that “an individual with the Microsoft Outlook email address firstname.lastname@example.org and the user name Robert Dickey (“defendant”)”…uploaded approximately 14 images of child pornography.”
The images included images of children’s nude bodies and of children engaging in sexual acts with adults.
Authorities issued a subpoena for Dickey’s IP address. At the same time, investigators were staking out his home/office. They traced a car parked at the property to him through motor vehicle records.
The next day, officers returned to serve a search warrant. Inside the home, they found two exam rooms. The facility “appeared dirty, cluttered, and unkempt.” Dickey had 20 patients to the books to be seen that day.
“Officers observed the defendant had been viewing a website with child pornography and child erotica on the desktop computer when they entered the office,” the document said.
Child welfare advocates praised Microsoft and the Alexandria-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where experts comb the Internet searching for people uploading inappropriate images of children or trying to lure children into sexual activity.
“The system worked,” said a D.C. social worker, who did not want to be identified. “The safeguards are in place to catch predators. There is a concerted effort to take down these criminals and it looks like this is a prime example of private industry and law enforcement working together to protect children.”
According to authorities, Dickey lives at the home with two of his grandsons, an infant and a 9-year-old. It could not be determined if he is raising them alone or if other adults reside there.
Police seized a Dell desktop computer and an additional hard drive. Dickey admitted searching for graphic images of children.
“The defendant, in a recorded statement, stated…that he visits child pornography sites, downloads child pornography and stores it on an external hard drive,” the charging document said.
Dickey is charged with possession of child pornography and receipt of child pornography, which carry a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 and a maximum of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000, respectively.
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