Sanford Missionary Pleads Guilty To Producing Child Pornography
Orlando, FL - Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Warren Scott Kennell (45, West Milford, New Jersey) today pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography. Kennell faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, up to a maximum of 30 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, between December 2008 and August 2011, Kennell produced images of child pornography involving two minor victims. According to the plea agreement, on May 31, 2013, Kennell arrived at Orlando International Airport from Panama City, Panama. After retrieving his luggage, Kennell was escorted to the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) secondary inspection area.
After Kennell was seated, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) searched Kennell's belongings and found three thumb drives and one external hard drive. During an interview, Kennell said that he had worked in Brazil as a missionary for the New Tribes Mission, in Sanford, Florida, and that he had been doing missionary work for several years. Kennell told the agent that he had never touched a child in a sexual and/or inappropriate manner, that he had never taken pornographic images of a child, and that there would be no child pornography found on any of the items in his luggage.
After Kennell made these statements, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) computer forensic agents advised that two images of child pornography had been found on Kennell's external hard drive.
When shown the first image, Kennell acknowledged that he was the man in the picture performing a sex act on the prepubescent female. Kennell said that he believed the girl was about 12 years old at the time the picture was taken. When shown the second image, Kennell admitted that he had taken that picture and that the girl in the second image also had been about 12 years old at the time. Kennell further admitted that both images had been taken in Brazil while he was on the missionary assignment.
A forensic examination of Kennell’s external hard drive showed more than 940 images of child pornography. The child victims are members of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon, where Kennell was setting up a church.
This case was investigated by HSI, with assistance from FDLE. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tanya Davis Wilson.
It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.