DHS Deputy Press Secretary Caught in Teen Sex Sting

Brian J. Doyle, the 55-year-old Deputy Press Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, has confessed to attempting to solicit sex from a minor via the Internet. The AP describes Doyle as “the fourth-ranking official in the department’s public affairs office.”

The basic story, as outlined by Tampa’s News 10:

On March 12, 2006, Doyle contacted a 14-year-old girl whose profile was posted on the Internet, and initiated a sexually explicit conversation with her. The girl was actually an undercover Polk County Sheriff’s Computer Crimes detective. Doyle knew that the girl was 14 years old, and he told her who he was and that he worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. During future online chats, Doyle gave the undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl his office phone number and his government-issued cell phone number, so that they could have telephone conversations, in addition to their online chatting. Doyle used the Internet to send hard-core pornographic movie clips to the girl and used the AOL Instant Messenger chat service to have explicit sexual conversations with her. The investigation revealed that the phone numbers given to the detective were in fact Doyle s, and that the AOL account used was registered to Doyle. Doyle also sent photos of himself to the detective, which were not sexually explicit but did serve to further positively identify him.

It was so bad that, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, “It shocked all of us who have worked vice, narcotics, organized crime, homicides.”

CNN reports that “Doyle confessed and has agreed to waive extradition to Florida.”

The good news is that the investigation was handled quickly and that the DHS inspector general’s office was part of it from the get-go. The bad news is, well, the rest of the story.

I am curious, though, about one aspect of the story. Doyle is charged with “7 counts Use of a Computer to Seduce a Child, and 16 counts of Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor.” It seems rather clear to me that he is innocent of those charges. He certainly intended to do those things and had one hell of a mens rea. But there was in fact no child being seduced nor a minor to whom materials were transmitted but rather a sheriff’s deputy whom, unless Polk County has some unusual hiring practices, has reached the age of majority. Does that matter?

Joe Gandleman observes, “It’s ironic but an official working to improve the Homeland Security Department’s image in the press has been arrested on child porn charges — which isn’t something that will burnish his agency’s image very much.” Not much doubt about that.

Ed Morrissey (who was the much-deserved recepient of the Blogger of the Year award last evening from The Week magazine) observes that, “political appointees such as Doyle are supposed to get a thorough vetting not just for security risks but also for the potential to embarrass the administration they serve.” John Aravosis (coincidentally, also one of the finalists for the award) agrees. While it’scertainly true that one would want to vet officials to preclude placing would-be pedophiles in office, there’s no evidence that this didn’t happen. Until one is caught, there would be no way for investigators to know that one engages in such activity. Of course, one would think a simple IQ test would have precluded tabbing someone so friggin’ stupid as to identify himself by job title while committing reprehensible crimes.

Or maybe they could just install SiteMeters on all the officials.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jonf says:

    Of course, one would think a simple IQ test would have precluded tabbing someone so friggin� stupid as to identify himself by job title while committing reprehensible crimes.

    This is another case of the culture of incompetence that permeates Bush’s approach towards personnel management.

    You’re doing a heckuva job, Doyley!

  2. legion says:

    Holy crap. From Brownie to Bernie Kerik to Harriet Meiers to this little stain. And he works for the people (DHS) who are supposed to be checking other people out to keep us safe?!? Is anyone in this administration legit?

  3. James Joyner says:

    There was a run during the Clinton administration where several nominees in a row had either some criminal issue, hadn’t paid taxes, or was a certifiable loon. It happens.

    Meiers and Brownie were certainly bad choices; Kerik was mostly just a political nightmare. I’m not at all sure that it is reasonable to expect the Doyles of the world to be caught before they’re caught, though.

  4. Jay Cline says:


    If someone sells drugs to a DEA agent, is he guilty of distributing?

    By your logic, no, because unless the DEA has some unusual hiring practices that would then allow the DEA agent to distribute the drugs on the street, then the drugs were effectively taken off the streets and the seller is actually a hero.


  5. legion says:

    I read some things about this last night, and I don’t recall which article it was, but at one point the cops basically said they were stunned at how quickly and openly he ID’d himself to the ‘girl’, including name, job, etc.

    With judgement like that, I gotta think there’s some real ‘close calls’, and possibly other run-ins with the law, that those around him just turned a blind eye to. I guess we’ll see as the case progresses, but my own unsupported speculation is that this guy’s problems should have been noticed long ago…

  6. Jay Cline: In your example, the potential seller is trying to sell drugs. The crime is not selling drugs to a user of drugs.
    I think a charge of “attempting to…” would bracket his intention, without pretending that a minor was actually harmed.

    legion: I’m guessing that you’re a liberal or democrat, or both, with that “penumbra – style” thinking going on…

    “If this happened, I’ll bet X things happened also.. And [even better] it happened while his colleagues and superiors ‘turned a blind eye’.”
    Quite an imagination you’ve got there. Now that Katie Couric is going to NBC, they’re going to need a fiction writer for the Today Show.
    Why not you?

  7. legion says:

    It’s funny you think that’s something only the left side does…
    Also, while it’s admittedly a guess, it’s one that is fairly well-based in psychology – sexual predation isn’t something a person just wakes up one day and decides to ‘try out’, there’s invariably a long history of interest, if not overt behavior. Doyle’s rapid surrender and lack of public self-defense leads me to believe he knew what he was doing was morally reprehensible, even as he was doing it.