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Feds suspend official facing child sex charges

Sheriff: Homeland Security aide e-mailed detective posing as girl

Department of Homeland Security deputy press secretary Brian J. Doyle faces extradition to Florida.


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Department of Homeland Security
Crime, Law and Justice

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (CNN) -- Family and friends were in the courtroom Wednesday when a Homeland Security Department spokesman made his first appearance after he was arrested for allegedly using a computer in attempts to seduce what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Wearing green jail-issue scrubs and a white T-shirt, Brian J. Doyle appeared in Montgomery County District Court via closed-circuit television.

The handful of family members and friends present to support him included a woman who has been Doyle's "life partner of 15 years," according to defense attorney Barry Helfand.

Doyle, 55, was arrested Tuesday night at his Silver Spring, Maryland, home. (Watch deputies take Doyle away in cuffs -- 3:18)

Authorities in Polk County, Florida, have charged him with 23 felony counts -- seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor, according to documents filed in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County.

Police said Doyle engaged in sexually explicit conversations online and sent pornographic movies to what he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but who was really a Polk County computer-crimes detective.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that Doyle had confessed to the allegations.

Earlier Wednesday, DHS placed the deputy press secretary on administrative leave without pay and suspended his security clearance, employee badge and facility access permissions.

During Wednesday's appearance, Helfand asked Judge Stephen P. Johnson to schedule an extradition hearing for Doyle. Although police have said he agreed to waive extradition to Florida, "my client may well change his mind," Helfand said. "Prudence says for now, we stay here and ask for a hearing."

Johnson ordered Doyle held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center and scheduled a hearing for May 4. Attorneys told reporters, however, it is likely that actions before then will make that hearing unnecessary.

Helfand said his plan is to meet with Doyle "and find out all of the details of this case." At some point, he said, he expects to return to court and ask the judge to release Doyle on minimal bond or his own recognizance, so Doyle can turn himself in to Florida authorities. He "would show up in Florida on his own," Helfand said.

'Very depressed man'

He described his client as "obviously, a very, very depressed man" and said he would like to explore whether there was something in Doyle's life that may have "triggered" the event.

But Helfand said he had "no problem" with police use of decoys in Internet stings, saying pedophiles "should have to worry [about] the person on the other end."

Montgomery County prosecutor Douglas Gansler said "this case shows that the seemingly anonymous Internet sexual predators come with many faces."

Although Montgomery County could prosecute the case because Doyle's alleged online contact came from his home, Florida detectives developed the case, and possible sentences are "far more meaningful and significant" there.

"We're going to let Florida pursue it," Gansler said.

Authorities said Doyle, in his first online conversation with the "girl," told her his name and his post with DHS. As the online chats continued, police said he gave her his home and office phone numbers, as well as the number to his DHS-issued cell phone.

In addition, he used the Internet to send "hard-core pornographic movie clips" to the girl, and used an America Online instant-messaging service to have explicit online conversations with a detective posing as the girl, they said.

"Many of the conversations he initiated with the 'victim' are too extraordinary and graphic for public release," according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

During a telephone conversation Tuesday, the "girl" told Doyle she had access to a Web camera and her mother would be out, making a date to meet him online. Police said Doyle was online with the "girl" when detectives came to his home to arrest him.

CNN's Mike Ahlers contributed to this report.

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