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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


JULY 21, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD


INDIANA MAN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTING TO ENTICE A MINOR

FOR SEX, DISTRIBUTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY


TRAVELED TO INDEPENDENCE TO MEET MOTHER, CHILDREN


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an Evansville, Ind., man has been charged in federal court after traveling to Independence, Mo., to meet a person he believed was a mother who was going to make her two children available to him for illegal sexual activity.


            Michael A. Stratton, 26, of Evansville, was charged in a three-count complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday, July 18, 2008. Stratton remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Wednesday, July 23, 2008. The government alleges, in a motion for detention, that Stratton poses a danger to children in the community. Law enforcement officers have identified five children with whom Stratton planned sexual meetings in Texas and North Carolina. Stratton had allegedly scheduled an eight-day visit to Texas to meet with a mother he met online to have sex with her children and her sister’s children (including a 2-year-old child). Stratton also allegedly planned to meet a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, telling officers he was waiting until she turned 16 so she could drive and “run away from her mother.”


            The federal criminal complaint charges Stratton with using the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity, distributing child pornography over the Internet and traveling across state lines to engage in sexual conduct with a minor.


            According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Stratton contacted an undercover Independence police officer, whom he believed to be a mother of two children, on July 10, 2008, in an Internet chat room. During that conversation, the affidavit says, Stratton sent the undercover officer two videos that contained child pornography and bestiality.


            On July 16, 2008, Stratton again contacted the undercover officer, the affidavit says, sending photos of child pornography and bestiality. During these chats, Stratton spoke about sexual activities with the undercover officer’s 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.


            Stratton contacted the undercover officer again on July 17, 2008, and made arrangements to travel from Indiana to meet in Independence. When Stratton arrived at the meeting location that evening, he was arrested by Independence police officers.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in this complaint are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department.


Project Safe Childhood

            This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html