The chief executive office of a publicly traded company in Irvine pleaded not guilty Friday to sexually assaulting two boys and sending them child pornography.
Qayed Murtaza Shareef, 39, of Aliso Viejo was charged with 30 counts of lewd acts with a minor younger than 14, a count of using a minor for sex acts, a count of distributing pornography to a minor, a count of possession or control of child pornography, all felonies. He also faces a sentencing enhancement for substantial sexual conduct with a child younger than 14 and committing lewd acts on multiple victims.
Shareef is the CEO and founder of Irvine-based Adaptive Media, a company that helps clients with various forms of online video advertising. The company’s website said he has 18 years of experience in digital marketing and advertising.
Shareef, ordered held on $2 million bail, was scheduled to return to court March 27 for a pretrial hearing. He was arrested Wednesday at his home.
Shareef allegedly engaged in “sexually explicit conversations” with a 10-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy through an online texting application called Tango between Christmas Day 2013 and Dec. 29 of that year, Deputy District Attorney Vanessa Woods said.
Woods alleges Shareef was using a phony name of Jeremy Stevens.
Much like a movie director, Shareef instructed the boys, who lived in Virginia, on what sex acts he wanted them to perform with each other while photographing and videotaping them with a tablet they were using, Woods alleged.
The boys would then send the pornographic images of themselves to the defendant, Woods alleged.
Also, during that time frame, Shareef was performing sex acts on himself and recording them to send to the boys to instruct them on what he wanted them to do, Woods alleged. Shareef is also accused of sending the boys adult pornography, Woods said.
The mother of one of the boys saw the correspondence on the tablet Dec. 30, 2013, and called authorities in Virginia, Woods said.
It took about a year to put the case together, in part because investigators had to seek multiple subpoenas of computer records to make their case, Woods said.
Authorities are concerned there may be more victims and asked anyone with information to call Sheriff’s Sgt. Wade Walsviek at (714) 647-7418 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Kelly Core at (714) 347-8794.
Shareef could face up to 752 years to life in prison if convicted at trial, Woods said.
Shareef’s attorney, Ricardo Nicol, issued the following statement:
“Mr. Shareef was born in Afghanistan. As a child he and his family experienced first hand the horrors and trauma of war following the Soviet invasion. He was a child refugee in India. He arrived in the United States at the age of 11 with his mother and brother. His father remained in Afghanistan as a freedom fighter.
“In America, Qayed excelled in school and sports. He is a husband and father. He is a well-respected businessman. He is a generous contributor to charitable causes. He has the support of his family and his colleagues. His defense team has not yet been presented with evidence of these allegations. Mr. Shareef maintains his innocence. He is confident that he will be vindicated through the legal process.”
Adaptive Media officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— City News Service