United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION, DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS THE INDICTMENT FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Lieu has been charged with distributing child
pornography and traveling with the intent to engage in
illicit sexual conduct with a person under the age of
eighteen. The charges arise from an undercover investigation,
during which Defendant allegedly exchanged child pornography
with an undercover detective and traveled from Maryland to
Washington, D.C. to engage in sexual activity with a child.
This matter is presently before the Court on Defendant's
pro se motion to dismiss the charges for lack of
jurisdiction. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies
Factual Allegations 
government intends to prove the following allegations at
trial. In the winter of 2016, Detective Timothy Palchak was
acting in an undercover capacity as part of the Metropolitan
Police Department-Federal Bureau of Investigation Child
Exploitation Task Force. Detective Palchak posted an internet
advertisement designed to attract individuals with a sexual
interest in children, Defendant responded to that ad, and
Defendant and Detective Palchak subsequently engaged in a
series of electronic communications in which Detective
Palchak posed as a father of a fictitious nine-year-old-girl.
communications with Detective Palchak, Defendant discussed
his prior illicit sexual conduct with his step-daughter, sent
Detective Palchak several images of child erotica and child
pornography, and made arrangements to meet Detective Palchak
and the fictitious child on February 4, 2016 for the purpose
of engaging in illicit sexual activity with the child. On
that date, Defendant traveled from Maryland to Washington
D.C. and met Detective Palchak at a prearranged location,
where he was arrested. Defendant was charged, and
subsequently indicted, with one count of distributing child
pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), and
one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual
conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b).
See Compl., ECF No. 1; Superseding Indictment, ECF
The Current Motion
December 2016, although he was represented by counsel,
Defendant filed a pro se motion to dismiss the
charge brought under 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b). Under this
“A person who travels in interstate commerce or travels
into the United States, or a United States citizen or an
alien admitted for permanent residence in the United States
who travels in foreign commerce, for the purpose of engaging
in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be
fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years,
or both.” Defendant's motion, however, was held in
abeyance at the request of Defendant's counsel.
later retained new counsel, who filed a notice that he was
submitting Defendant's motion without argument. Def.
Counsel's Response, ECF No. 59. The government submitted
a brief in opposition, and the motion is now ripe for the
makes several arguments for why the charge brought under 18
U.S.C. § 2423(b) should be dismissed. Specifically, he
argues that: (1) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction;
(2) Section 2423(b) does not apply to Defendant's case;
(3) Section 2423(b) violates the Commerce Clause of the
United States Constitution; and (4) Section 2423(b), as
applied to Defendant, impermissibly criminalizes “mere
thought.” For the reasons set forth below, this Court
concludes that none of these arguments have merit.
The Court's Subject ...