A Gilmer man has pleaded guilty to federal child exploitation after he hid a cellphone in a bathroom to record a child younger than 12 and then shared the video online.

Michael Parker, 41, pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexual exploitation of a child before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roy Payne of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to information presented in court, Parker hid a cellphone in a bathroom to record video of a minor under the age of 12. Parker positioned the phone to intentionally capture images and videos of the child.

“Parker then distributed the images and videos of the child to other individuals utilizing multiple online communications platforms, including e-mail, a cloud storage account, and a photo-sharing social media application,” the Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Parker with federal violations Sept. 17. Parker faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of an investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is 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 U.S. attorneys’ offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute people who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.