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An attorney from a prominent Key Biscayne family faces child pornography charges in an investigation involving a transmitted video of an 11-year-old girl exploited in Texas, according to federal court documents.

The FBI arrested William McCaughan Jr., who worked for the Morgan Law Group in Coral Gables, July 28. He faces charges of  receipt of child pornography and attempted receipt of child pornography. If convicted, both charges would carry a mandatory 5-year prison term. 

McCaughan, 41, pleaded not guilty but remains in custody, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. On Dec. 14, the Florida Supreme Court ordered his law license be revoked effective later this month.  He specialized in real estate law.

His attorney, David B. Rothman, said Tuesday he had no comment, citing that the case is pending before the court.

The McCaughan family has been deeply embedded in the island’s life through a number of charitable, religious, and civic causes for decades, but the junior McCaughan appears to have had little or no connection to them.d

The arrest remained under the radar until the Miami Herald reported the Supreme Court disciplinary action, which McCaughan did not contest. 

The FBI, in an arrest affidavit filed with federal court in Miami, said McCaughan used the messenger app Kik to receive images of the 11-year-old girl from Texas and solicited other images from an undercover operative. 

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McCaughan used the user name “wmcaugh” and accessed the app through an IP address associated with an account owned by his father – William McCaughan Sr. – at a Key Biscayne condominium, documents show. 

The affidavit doesn’t identify the exact address – except that it is a 500-square foot, one-bedroom condo – but records show McCaughan with ties to a residence at Casa del Mar. 

“Law enforcement conducted surveillance at the residence and observed McCaughan inside of the condo when he answered a knock on the door,” wrote Special Agent Timothy Augustyniak in an arrest affidavit.

The investigation started when the FBI closed in on a man – identified only as C.L – in Texas who had taken videos of his 11-year-old niece with a hidden camera in the bathroom. With access to the man’s phone, the FBI learned that one video was transmitted to “wmccaugh,” a man who described himself to C.L. as a lawyer in South Florida.

The affidavit includes explicit conversations between “wmcaugh” and C.L., as well as with an undercover FBI operative between December 2022 and April. 

Authorities also found bags of cocaine at the condominum and in McCaughan’s vehicle, according to the affidavit. There has been no separate drug charges filed, though.

The FBI, according to the affidavit, zeroed in on McCaughan by issuing a subpoena to Kik’s parent company, Media Labs Inc. The investigation led to an IP address associated with the condo and a phone number listed as an account contact. 

In October, U.S. District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz issued a protective order limiting information about the case, even to defense counsel, after prosecutors said the government was concerned about the well-being of other children and was investigating others who may be criminally liable besides McCaughan.

“The discovery in this case is incredibly sensitive material relating to the exploitation of children. Disclosure of discovery material beyond the defense team endangers that ongoing investigation and the wellbeing of the children involved in the images and videos,”  wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Abbie Waxman. 

McCaughan’s trial, after several delays, is set for Feb. 26. 

Prior to his work in private practice, McCaughan worked as state prosecutor for the 20th Judicial Circuit, which covers five counties in Southwest Florida. He also was a judicial clerk for a federal judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Linked In.

Eds: Updates previous version with McCaughan’s attorney saying he has no comment on the case.

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John Pacenti

JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.