United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. MCCONNELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Cobb files his petition for post-conviction relief after
having plead guilty to a one-count Information alleging that
he had distributed child pornography in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). He claims ineffective assistance of
counsel. Finding no basis for granting the extraordinary
relief, the Court DENIES his Motion to Vacate. ECF No. 64.
Cobb is a former professor at the Naval War College. He was
47 years old at all relevant times. He plead guilty to having
been involved in sending, receiving and producing lascivious
photographs of naked minor children.
Cobb agreed to the truth of these facts at his change of
In January of 2015 ... the Rhode Island Internet Crimes
Against Children [ICAC] Task Force received a referral from
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a
person using the website "tumbler.com" with an
account name of "ddlg-obey-daddy," uploaded four
image files containing suspected pornography.
This information ... led to a Rhode Island State Police
investigation along with Homeland Security agents and other
local law enforcement officers that belong to the ICAC, and
they applied for and obtained a search warrant for the
Defendant's house. That search warrant was executed ...
and agents seized various computers and cellphones belonging
to the Defendant.
... during that search, a hard drive was seized, among other
things, pursuant to the warrant and was examined by a Rhode
Island State Police forensic analyst who discovered
photographs and video footage of a 17-year-old minor who it
turned out was a citizen of the United Kingdom.....
In the fall of 2014, the Defendant had this minor travel to
the United States unbeknownst to her parents to stay with him
at his Tampa residence. There the Defendant made multiple
videos depicting himself and the U.K. minor engaged in
various sexual acts.
On that same computer, the forensic analyst also found nude
still images of this minor which involved a lascivious
exhibition of the genitals. Many of these images had been
sent going back as far as August 2013 ... They had been sent
by the U.K. victim from England to the Defendant via the
... [T]he day after the execution of the state search
warrant, agents had encountered the Defendant while he was
coming back from international travel and seized an iPhone 6
from him at a border search on that date.
[A]gents [thereafter] obtained a search warrant from this
Court for that iPhone 6. Forensic analysis of that phone ...
revealed that during the same timeframe that the Defendant
was having the U.K. victim come to Florida, the Defendant was
in communication with another minor, this time a 16-year-old
who lived outside of Rhode Island in the eastern part of the
United States. Forensic evidence from that iPhone revealed
that the Defendant was engaged in online Skype text chats and
live camera feeds with this victim. The Defendant identified
himself as "Daddy Mike 69." The Defendant engaged
in explicit sexual text messaging with this victim.
For example, ... the Defendant told the victim that he wanted
to engage in anal intercourse with her, forcing himself into
her even if it hurt her because, "daddy wants to see
your teen tears." The analyst also found that the
Defendant had engaged in screen captures by obtaining still
images of these live video exchanges that were taking place
He engaged in screen captures of images from that live feed
of the victim. The Defendant had saved these images onto his
phone. These images depicted the United States victim ...
engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including the
lascivious exhibition of her genitals and acts of
self-penetration of her genitals with a hairbrush as well as
bobby pins being placed on her vaginal area. This victim was
later interviewed ... and indicated that she posed and did
these acts ... at the request of the Defendant. During these
communications, the Defendant wanted to meet with her, but
the victim cut off the relationship before that happened.
Finally ... the forensic analysis of the Defendant's
phone indicated that ... the Defendant sent by text message
four sexually explicit images of the United States victim ...
to an unknown recipient. ... [T]he next day or later the same
day ... he sent two more such images to that same recipient.
Again, that recipient is unknown; but the sexually explicit
images ... were accompanied by texts from the Defendant which
said things like "this little bitch is sky long with me
right now," "I did bobby pins on clit and
nips," and "hairbrush action."
ECF No. 60 at 13-17.
TRAVEL OF THE CASE
Cobb was arrested and charged by complaint with Distribution
and Receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 2252(a)(2). ECF No. 3. On that same day, two
experienced criminal defense attorneys entered their
appearances for Mr. Cobb. ECF Nos. 5 and 6. The Court at
first detained Mr. Cobb but the Magistrate Judge later
released him on $1, 000, 000 full surety.
Government filed a series of motions to extend the 30-day
time to indict under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §
3161(b), under the tolling provisions in 18 U.S.C.
§3161(h). The parties stated they needed time to engage
in plea negotiations, as well as to view and digest the
complex evidence accumulated against Mr. Cobb during the
investigation. Mr. Cobb's attorneys met with the
prosecutor to review evidence and discuss the case. After
seeing the evidence amassed against Mr. Cobb, those attorneys
proposed a guilty plea by Mr. Cobb.
Cobb then fired these attorneys and retained new counsel.
Much of the pretrial work therefore ...