A former Navy physician’s assistant has pleaded guilty in federal court to multiple counts of child sex exploitation and abuse, United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced Thursday.
Brandon W. Schroth, 39, was charged with 13 counts of sexual exploitation of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child under 12. The felonies occurred over the course of two weeks, investigators said.
Schroth has been in custody since March 2012. He once worked as a physician's assistant at the Commander, Naval Air Forces.
According to court documents, between December 18, 2010, and December 26, 2010, Schroth boarded a flight from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany, to engage in sexually explicit conduct with a minor outside the U.S.
He planned to film his interaction with the minor.
During that time, investigators said Schroth was staying with a then-active duty Air Force member and mother of two minor girls, ages 9 and 11.
After Schroth returned to the U.S. in late December 2010, court records show he took sexually explicit photographs of a 9-year-old girl at his home in Mission Valley.
He also corresponded with a man in Colorado – Jeffrey Allan Mueller – with whom he planned to share the sexually explicit videos of the children.
FBI investigators later found videos produced in Germany of two minor females and several other sexually explicit images of minors taken by Schroth on Mueller’s computer in Colorado.
Now that Schroth has pleaded guilty, his sentencing is scheduled for Feb 11. He faces a minimum of 30 years to life in prison, a lifetime of supervised release and must register as a sex offender.
As for Mueller, investigators said he pleaded guilty to five counts of production of child pornography and was sentenced to 40 years in federal custody on October 4.
During the course of the prosecution of Schroth and Mueller, the government identified at least five additional producers of child pornography. Officials were able to rescue approximately 35 additional child victims of ongoing sexual abuse who were depicted in pornographic images.
Editor's note: We originally reported that Schroth worked at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park, instead of Commander, Naval Air Forces. NBC regrets the error.