Peter Diehl, 32, Superior, Wis., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley to 20 years in federal prison for two counts of possession of child pornography. Diehl pleaded guilty to these charges on February 7, 2017, and in doing so, also admitted to transporting a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activity.
On August 17, 2015, Diehl drove to Virginia and picked up a 14-year-old girl whom he had met on the Internet and transported her to a hotel in Hermantown, Minn. That same day, the minor’s mother reported her missing to the Suffolk (Va.) Police Department. On August 20, 2015, Diehl transported the girl from Minnesota to Wisconsin.
A nationwide investigation ensued, but the whereabouts of the minor were unknown until September 23, 2015, when the girl was able to call her mother. The phone number that the girl called from was traced back to Peter Diehl in Superior, Wis. That same day, the girl was recovered from Diehl’s home.
A search warrant of Diehl’s home, which had no running water or utilities, revealed evidence of sexual abuse and images of child pornography. Diehl is facing state charges for abduction and repeated sexual assault of a child in Douglas County, Wis., in connection with this matter.
U.S. District Judge Conley said the sentence he imposed was “intentionally harsh,” and that Diehl “tortured a child while continuing to troll for other victims.” Judge Conley specifically noted the mental and physical abuse that the victim suffered, including the fact that Diehl threatened to brand the child and that a video was found on Diehl’s phone of him chasing the victim and threatening her with a homemade blow torch type of device.
The investigation also revealed that in June 2015, Diehl allegedly transported another 14-year-old girl from Illinois to Minnesota and had been in possession of thousands of images of child pornography. It is anticipated that Diehl will face charges in Minnesota stemming from this investigation.
The charges against Diehl were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Superior Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, Duluth (Minn.) Police Department, and Suffolk (Va.) Police Department. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Pfluger and Diane Schlipper.