CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina child psychiatrist was sentenced to 40 years in prison after police say he used artificial intelligence to create child pornography and sexually exploited children.

David Tatum, 41, of Charlotte, was also sentenced to 30 years of supervised release following imprisonment.

“As a child psychiatrist, Tatum knew the damaging, long-lasting impact sexual exploitation has on the wellbeing of victimized children. Regardless, he engaged in the depraved practice of using secret recordings of his victims to create illicit images and videos of them,” said U.S. Attorney Dena J. King for the Western District of North Carolina. “Tatum also misused artificial intelligence in the worst possible way: to victimize children. The 40-year sentence underscores our efforts to do all we can to bring justice to child victims. As the field of artificial intelligence advances, my office is committed to prosecuting predators who seek to exploit this technology to inflict harm on children.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between 2016 and 2021, Tatum possessed images and videos of child pornography.

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In or about July 2016, prosecutors said Tatum secretly recorded a minor who was undressing and showering. A look at his electronic devices revealed Tatum produced and possessed video of the child, along with other images and videos of child pornography.

Investigators said Tatum made similar surreptitious recordings of others, including one of his own patients during an outpatient visit. Prosecutors said the patient turned 18 years old five days before the recording.

“It is horrific to believe anyone would secretly record children undressing and showering for their own sexual gratification. And when the evidence proves that person is a doctor entrusted to help children through difficult mental health situations, it is inconceivable,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert M. DeWitt of the FBI Charlotte Field Office. “The FBI will never stop working to put predators like Tatum behind bars for a very long time.”    

Prosecutors said Tatum used AI to digitally alter clothed images of minors making them sexually explicit child pornography. Two of the images were from a school dance and a photo commemorating the first day of school.

On May 4, a federal jury in Charlotte convicted Tatum of one count of production of child pornography, one count of transportation of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. He is in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

According to King, Tatum was ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined within 90 days, a $100 special assessment per count of conviction, and a special assessment totaling $99,000 under the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act. Tatum will be required to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board in any state or jurisdiction where he works or resides, after release.

The FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Cervantes and Mark T. Odulio for the Western District of North Carolina prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.