WASHINGTON ― A 30-year-old former CIA employee who the federal government suspects of ― but has not charged with ― giving a massive trove of agency documents to WikiLeaks is also facing charges in Virginia, where he’s accused of snapping photos as he sexually assaulted a passed-out friend as she lay on the floor of his bathroom.
Joshua Adam Schulte was arrested in August on federal child pornography charges, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that The Washington Post and The New York Times reported the government was interested in Schulte because it suspected him of providing WikiLeaks with thousands of documents on the CIA’s hacking operations. The “Vault 7 leak,” published in March 2017, was the largest loss of classified documents in CIA history. Schulte’s Manhattan apartment was searched one week after it was published.
The government still hasn’t brought a case against Schulte in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents. Instead, they charged Schulte in August with child pornography over videos found on an encrypted computer server he started back in 2009 when he was in college. His lawyers have said that dozens of people had access to that server.
The FBI also sent along photos they obtained from one of Schulte’s phones to prosecutors in Loudoun County, where he lived when he worked for the CIA. The photos, taken in April 2015, show a woman “passed out on the floor” of his bathroom and being sexually assaulted. The unnamed woman has been referred to as Schulte’s friend and former roommate.
The government said in October that the county conducted its own investigation and interviewed the victim after the FBI provided the photographs. In November, according to federal prosecutors, Schulte was charged with two crimes: a felony count of object sexual penetration and a misdemeanor count of unlawful creation of an image of another.
“The victim remembers the night in question. It was one of the few nights that she passed out and didn’t remember what occurred. She could also, apparently, identify the bathroom, which was the bathroom where she was staying as a roommate of Mr. Schulte’s,” a federal prosecutor said at a hearing in January. The government told the judge that the woman was unconscious at the time, and was unable to identify Schulte as assaulting her. But prosecutors in Virginia, the federal government told the court, were evidently able to confirm that the pair of hands depicted assaulting the woman belonged to Schulte.
But even if it wasn’t Schulte who assaulted the victim, the federal prosecutor said it was “outrageous that Mr. Schulte would keep these types of images of someone who is supposed to be his friend on his phone” and contended it “shows more than just someone who wants to look at things; it shows someone who cannot control their impulses.”
The government still hasn’t brought a case against Schulte in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents. Instead, they charged Schulte in August with child pornography over videos found on an encrypted computer server he started back in 2009.
Schulte had been released on strict bail conditions in September but was detained in December after he was charged in Virginia as a result of the information the FBI had given to local prosecutors. Prosecutors also said he’d violated his release conditions by accessing his email as well as the anonymous internet network TOR. The new charge, they said, “shows that the defendant is someone who will act out on his impulses and actually engage in sexually dangerous behavior.”
Neither Schulte’s attorney nor the Loudoun County prosecutor responded to HuffPost’s request for comment on those charges.
The status of the Virginia case isn’t entirely clear. “Virginia never came to get him,” his lawyer said at the hearing in January. “Virginia just didn’t do anything in this case.” His lawyer said Virginia was “just sitting back and waiting to see what happens” with the case and that the state had “no interest in Mr. Schulte.” The only case against Schulte listed in Loudoun County court records available online is an old traffic offense.
Schulte was recently assigned a federal public defender after his private attorney dropped out. The Times reported that Schulte’s family had spent most of their savings on legal fees.
Meanwhile, Schulte remains in federal custody. Evidently a fan of Ayn Rand, he’s also begun writing lengthy, pseudonymous essays about the injustices of the federal criminal system for “John Galt’s Legal Defense Fund,” according to the Post and the Times. The Facebook page, a reference to the hero of Atlas Shrugged, had just two likes as of Tuesday.
Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering the Justice Department, federal law enforcement, criminal justice and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at email@example.com or on Signal at 202-527-9261.