News and Press Releases

Louisville Man Pleads Guilty To Violating Federal Child Exploitation Law


– Prosecution stemmed from undercover “sting” operation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY – Benjamin Kula Wilmes, age 34, pled guilty January 6, 2012 to violating federal child exploitation law, announced David J. Hale, United State Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. Wilmes entered the plea before Senior United States District Judge Thomas B. Russell.

According to the Plea Agreement filed in open court, Wilmes pled guilty to attempting to transfer obscene materials to a minor. He admitted that from his home in Louisville, Kentucky, beginning on or about July 8, 2007, he used the screen name “wookinpanub719” and engaged in on-line communications on Yahoo! with a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl living in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Wilmes initiated the on-line communication with the person using screen name “alyce_witha_y” using the Internet. “Alyce_witha_y” was not a 13-year-old girl but rather an adult working with a private organization, Perverted Justice, whose purpose was to ferret out individuals seeking to sexually exploit children while online. The last communication between the two occurred on October 26, 2007.

During the course of the communications, Wilmes transmitted obscene materials to the decoy. Specifically, on September 23, 2007, Wilmes used a web camera to transmit obscene live streaming video of himself “alyce_witha_y.” The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office became aware of Wilmes’s online conduct due to an undercover sting operation conducted in October 2007. Wilmes did not travel to the prearranged meeting in October 2007. However, on December 8, 2007, KBI law enforcement officials executed a State Search on Wilmes’s home. Forensic examination of computers seized from Wilmes revealed images of Wilmes as well as sexually explicit images of children.

Wilmes faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and Supervised Release of a period of three years. His sentencing is scheduled for April 16, 2012, at 2:00pm before Senior Judge Russell in Louisville.

Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless prosecuted the case. The Department of Criminal Investigations of the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General led the investigation.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by 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 better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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