The following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Middle District of Florida on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
Jacksonville, Florida – Chief United States District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced Michael Paul Gillis (65, Jacksonville) to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for possessing images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children. The court also ordered Gillis to serve a 10-year term of supervised release, register as a sex offender, and forfeit his computer media. Gillis had pleaded guilty on April 27, 2022.
According to court documents and information provided in court, FBI agents were investigating individuals who were using a particular online network to share child sexual abuse materials. The investigation revealed that Gillis, a retired Jacksonville public school teacher, had accessed this network from his home.
On February 2, 2022, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Gillis’s home. Gillis, who was home at the time, admitted that he had been accessing child sexual abuse materials using the internet for the past 15 years, and that he had viewed materials depicting children as young as 3 years old. Gillis also stated that he viewed these images and videos while employed as a schoolteacher and would fantasize about touching children inappropriately but claimed that he had never acted on it. He acknowledged that he would continue to seek out these materials online because he would have “a hard time” stopping this behavior because it is an “urge.” During the execution of the search warrant, FBI personnel seized several computers belonging to Gillis that contained at least 2,000 images and 150 videos depicting infants, toddlers, and other young children being sexually abused.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.