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Published on May 15, 2024
McAllen, Texas Man Sentenced to 50 Years for Exploiting Minors on FacebookSource: Unsplash/ Tyler Rutherford

A Virginia man has been hit with a 50-year prison sentence for a vile scheme exploiting minors on Facebook, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced. Michael Tienping Tang, a 35-year-old from McAllen, Texas, leveraged the social media platform to commit his crimes, targeting vulnerable children and subjecting them to his twisted demands, according to U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Pleading guilty back in May of 2019, Tang's history of sexual offenses painted a disturbing picture. While under supervision for previous convictions, Tang orchestrated his new crimes, using Facebook to stalk and manipulate over 50 victims. According to an announcement by the Justice Department, he engaged in stalking his victims' families and friends, wringing sexually explicit acts from them through coercion.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who oversaw Tang's hearing, had additional evidence presented showing the long-lasting impact on the victims who carry fear and shame. The Justice Department noted that despite this fear, two brave minors came forward, shedding light on Tang's offending actions. Post-prison, the judge mandated that Tang live under strict supervision, limiting his internet access and any contact with children, in addition to being registered as a sex offender.

"Tang, a child predator, weaponized Facebook to serve his sick and depraved desires," said Hamdani in the hearing. "“He used the common social media app to target, exploit and extort our most precious and vulnerable asset, our children. Today’s sentence shrinks Tang’s social circle, shaped by the vastness of an online world, to the restrictive confines of a federal penitentiary.” Special Agent in Charge Craig S. Larrabee of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) also chimed in, underlying the severity and cruelty of child exploitation, as obtained by the Justice Department's announcement.

The investigation that led to Tang's downfall began in May 2017 when local school district officials alerted authorities about possible sexual exploitation happening online. The victim's videos and images, after being blocked by them on Facebook, were used by Tang to create new accounts and reconnect, the Justice Department reports. The predator's previous convictions in 2012 included attempted indecent liberties with a child and child pornography possession.

Right now, pending a transfer, Tang remains in custody. This case was a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative led by the U.S. Attorney's Offices to battle the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The goal is to unite resources at all levels of government to locate and prosecute offenders while rescuing victims.