FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 18, 2019
Contact: Heather F. Williamson
Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office
20 East Market Street
Leesburg, VA 20176-2809
NEW JERSEY MAN SENTENCED FOR SEX OFFENSES WITH A LOUDOUN TEEN
JUDGE IMPOSES 15 YEARS
LEESBURG, Virginia – June 3, 2019. Matthew J. Essen, 22, appeared before Judge Thomas D. Horne in Loudoun County Circuit Court for sentencing on two counts of carnal knowledge, two counts of producing child pornography, one count of indecent liberties with a child, and one count of proposing a sex act by communications system. Horne imposed a total active sentence of fifteen years in the Virginia Department of Corrections.
In early May 2018, Essen began an internet relationship with a fourteen-year-old in Loudoun County. Essen and the victim communicated and sent photographs to each other using Kik, an Internet-based messaging service.
On May 20, 2018, Essen traveled from New Jersey to Loudoun County to meet the victim at a restaurant. The two left the restaurant in Essen’s vehicle and went to a local park. At the park, Essen and the victim engaged in sexual activity, some of which Essen filmed using his cellular phone. Essen later forwarded the videos to the victim via Kik. Essen and the victim left the park after the teen’s request after observing other people walking in the park.
The following day, the victim reported the incident to a school counselor, and the counselor immediately contacted the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. With the victim’s cooperation, Detectives were able to record a phone call between the victim and Essen. Essen confirmed the alleged sexual encounter, and further suggested that the two meet again to engage in sexual activity.
Essen entered pleas of guilty to all counts on November 19, 2018.
Before pronouncing a sentence, Judge Horne noted that Essen has a high likelihood of re-offending and that he was troubled by the age of the victim in this case. “The Victim Impact Statement is breathtaking,” said Horne. “You can almost hear the child in this courtroom,” he continued. Unable to ignore the fact that evidence suggested Essen ruined this child’s life and perhaps other children as well, Judge Horne deviated upwards from the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines which called for a maximum sentence of ten years and six months. “[Victims] need to know that in their heart of hearts, when they go forward, that they did not do anything wrong,” said Horne.
Essen received an additional fifteen years of suspended time and is prohibited from any contact with the victim or the victim’s family. Upon his release from prison, Essen will be placed on of supervised probation for the remainder of his life. Pursuant to Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act, Essen will also be required to register as a sex offender.