News and Press Releases

project safe childhood

former nixa firefighter sentenced to 15 years
for receiving child porn

November 23, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Nixa, Mo., firefighter was sentenced in federal court today for receiving child pornography over the Internet.

Michael Keith Benson, 41, of Nixa, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Benson to spend the rest of his life on supervised release following incarceration.

On July 30, 2010, Benson pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography. Under the terms of the federal plea agreement, Benson also pleaded guilty to state charges of child molestation, statutory sodomy and sexual exploitation of a minor child in the Circuit Court of Christian County, Mo. His 15-year state sentence will be served concurrently with the federal sentence.

Benson admitted that he used a file-sharing program to download a video of child pornography from the Internet on Jan. 22, 2009. Benson possessed more than 600 images of child pornography, including images of children under the age of 12, images of sadistic and masochistic conduct, and images of a minor with whom he had contact.

Benson forfeited to the government a computer, two digital cameras and a computer hard drive, all of which were used to commit the offense.

This case was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Nixa, Mo., Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Project Safe Childhood
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

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