A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department was put on unpaid leave Wednesday after being charged with preying on a child through online sexual conversations with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl.
Homeland Security officials said Brian J. Doyle, the fourth-ranking spokesman at the department, was put on "non-pay status" following the charges late Tuesday. Doyle, 55, was expected to appear in court Wednesday afternoon in suburban Maryland, where he lives.
"The department is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation into the allegations against Brian Doyle," said Homeland Security press secretary Russ Knocke. "We take these allegations very seriously."
Knocke said Doyle's security clearance, employee badge and facility access permissions have been suspended. The department's inspector general also is investigating the charges, which say Doyle revealed his name and his employer and offered the numbers of his Homeland Security-issued office and cell phones during online conversations.
Investigators say Doyle couldn't have been more brazen, giving out his title, calling from the office, even sending a photo showing his Homeland Security identity card, reports CBS Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
"It doesn't come any more hard core," said Polk County, Fla., Sheriff Grady Judd. "He graphically explained to a 14-year old girl what he would like to do to her and what he would like her to do to him."
For tips on protecting your kids online, .
Doyle joined the federal government as a civil service employee shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, working at the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration. He joined the Homeland Security's press operation last summer.
A former colleague said Doyle is divorced.
The charges, by the Polk County, Fla., Sheriff's Department, accuse Doyle of finding the teenager's profile online and allege that he began having sexually explicit conversations with her on the Internet on March 14.
Click here to hear Larry Magid's podcast interview
of Ernie Allen of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children,
who testified Tuesday before Congress and has advice for parents.
Authorities said he sent her pornographic movie clips, as well as non-sexual photos of himself, officials said. One of the photos, released by the sheriff's office, shows Doyle in what appears to be DHS headquarters. He is wearing a Homeland Security pin on his lapel and a lanyard that says "TSA."
On several occasions, Doyle instructed the girl to perform a sexual act while thinking of him and described explicit activities he wanted to have with her, investigators said.
Doyle appeared Wednesday afternoon at a court hearing in suburban Maryland, where he lives. No bail was set, and he only spoke to answer routine questions, such as verifying his name. He was joined at the hearing by a woman that Doyle's attorney, Barry Hefland, identified as Doyle's life partner of 15 years.
Helfand said he hopes that at a bond review hearing, Doyle will be given bond so he can turn himself in to authorities in Florida without the need for extradition.
Authorities arrested Doyle on Tuesday at his Silver Spring, Md., home as he was online with the "girl." The undercover detective had called Doyle at work and said she got a Web camera, as he had asked her to do, and wanted to test it out, said Carrie Rodgers, Polk County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
"He said he would get on the computer when he got home from work so we knew he would be on," Rodgers said. "When (police) went to his door, he was on the computer in the middle of a conversation with the girl."
He was booked into the Montgomery County Detention Center. Doyle also faces a charge of transmission of harmful material to a minor.
"He said last night that he was going to waive extradition. If he does that, we may have him back by the end of the week," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Wednesday. "He could get to court today and some lawyer may say 'no, you don't want to do that.' The bottom line is we don't know when he's coming back."
"This case is yet another illustration of how important it is for parents to supervise their children's use of Internet," says CBS News technology analyst Larry Magid, a longtime activist on behalf of safety for children online.
"It's not unusual for a person with a very respectable job to be caught up in Internet crimes against children," says Magid. "We've had cases of police officers, clergy, teachers, youth leaders, doctors — people from all walks of life — who have been arrested on similar charges. Predators don't necessarily look and act any different from the rest of us, which is why kids need to be very careful."
There was no immediate response to messages left on Doyle's government-issued cell phone and his e-mail, and he could not be reached by phone at the jail for comment.
CBSNews.com has learned that this is not the first time Doyle's alleged Internet habits got him in trouble. A source told CBSNews.com that while working in a previous position, managers discovered that Doyle had been looking at pornography on a receptionist's computer late at night. He admitted to the incident, was reprimanded, and was asked to give a formal apology to staffers, the source said.