Share article

Former Key Biscayne resident William McCaughan Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single felony count of producing visual depictions involving sexual exploitation of a minor before U.S. District Judge Rodlofo Ruiz II. 

The former attorney was facing six counts, but the judge accepted a deal on just one charge. McCaughan Jr. faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and at least five years of supervised release. 

In records made public Tuesday, the government said McCaughan Jr. started chatting with an adult male in 2022 who then sent him a video showing the man’s 11-year old niece exiting a shower, using a hidden camera. 

After executing a search warrant at McCaughan Jr.’s residence last July, agents found devices containing multiple chats, including ones with 16- and 14-year old boys. Prosecutors said McCaughan Jr. asked the younger boy to send him images of his genitalia.

 “Let’s see the rest of your body,” says one message in an evidence summary made public by Assistant U.S Attorney Abbie Waxman. “The images depicted MINOR VICTIM 2 engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” says the factual proffer document, which was reviewed by the judge and signed by McCaughan Jr.

In court, McCaughan looked gaunt as he was led by officers, his feet and hands chained. He was clad in a tan jail jumpsuit and looked unshaven, far different from the coiffed image once used on his law firm’s website. 

In this image posted to his Linked In account, former attorney William McCaughan Jr is seen posing for a promotional photo. (Linked In via KBI)

His relatives sat in a back row, sometimes being overcome with emotion, clasping hands over ears. At one point, the parents briefly walked out as a summary of the factual background was read aloud by Waxman. She said the images seized by law enforcement “number in the hundreds.” 

As part of the agreement, prosecutors said they would recommend a downward departure from federal sentencing guidelines of up to three levels because of McCaughan Jr.’s early acceptance of responsibility and his cooperation with investigators. He has been incarcerated since his arrest last year. The recommendations are not binding on the court, however.

Judge Ruiz set sentencing for Aug. 28 and said his decision will be based on a pre-sentencing report, but indicated he did not have much latitude. “The sentencing options may be few given the nature of the mandatory minimums,” he said. The maximum sentence is 30 years and supervised release could last the remainder of the defendant’s life. 

McCaughan Jr. also agreed to pay $250,000 and to make restitution to all of his victims of not less than $3,000 per victim. 

Invest in Local News for Your Town. Your Gift is tax-deductible

This story has been corrected to reflect the number of counts against the defendant.

Editor-in-Chief

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow...