News and Press Releases

2012 national crime victims' rights week

buchanan county detective honored for service to victims, combating child exploitation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, presented the Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award today to Det. Thomas Cates of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department for his outstanding service to crime victims and combating child exploitation, which resulted in the successful prosecution of a Danish national for producing and transporting child pornography and for extortion against an 11-year-old Missouri girl.

Today’s award ceremony was part of an annual event hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and VictimNet, a coalition of victim service providers and others committed to meeting the needs of crime victims in Jackson County, in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme, “Extending the Vision, Reaching Every Victim,” calls on us to expand the vision that inspired the victims’ movement and celebrate the progress achieved thus far.  It also captures the spirit and highlights the need for us to assist and serve each and every victim in need of hope and help.

Cates, a detective with the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department, is assigned to the Western Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force in Platte County. Cates, the lead agent in his first federal case, investigated the exploitation and extortion of the Buchanan County, Mo., victim by Kai Lundstroem Pedersen, 61, a citizen of Denmark. When Pedersen traveled from his home in Denmark to New York during the investigation, Cates discovered his travel plans and went to arrest him and bring him back to Missouri to face federal charges. Pedersen pleaded guilty to the charges contained in a federal indictment and was sentenced on Feb. 2, 2012, to 30 years in federal prison without parole.

“Despite the complexities due to the international aspects of this investigation, Det. Cates performed superbly in moving the case forward and in constantly remaining in touch with the victim and her family,” Ketchmark said. “His willingness to cross over and provide resources and information to other agencies was likewise of great assistance in tracking down this defendant.  But for Det. Cates’s aggressive and timely work from the outset of this investigation, it is unlikely that we would have ever caught the defendant in this case.”

Today’s event at the KC Live Stage in the Power and Light District also featured comments from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Greg Smith, founder of the Kelsey Smith Foundation, and included a showcase of various local victim service providers and a victims’ memorial walk led by the Kansas City Mounted Patrol.

The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award is presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office each year during the local observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to recognize the outstanding work of an individual or organization in protecting children from exploitation. The award was presented to Cates in memory of Crystal Kipper and Ali Kemp, two young women who were both fatal victims of tragic crimes. The parents of Kipper and Kemp participated in today’s presentation.

According to Ketchmark, Cates was contacted by the Missouri victim’s family after Pedersen communicated with their daughter over the Internet, deceived her into believing he was a teenage boy, then exploited and extorted her. After meeting with the family and gaining their trust, Cates used the victim’s email and Facebook accounts to covertly engage directly with Pedersen. When he learned that Pedersen was engaging in this activity from Denmark, he contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations.

Pedersen admitted that in July 2010 he instructed the victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct that he recorded and saved as a digital video on his computer.  This video, as well as screen capture images from the video, were later edited and distributed to others, including family and friends of the victim.  Pedersen distributed the images and video over the Internet via file-sharing software.

Pedersen contacted the victim using various aliases through email and chat programs from July to September 2010 in an effort to convince her to engage again in sexually explicit conduct via video web chat.  Pedersen threatened to disseminate sexually explicit images of her over the Internet if she did not comply with his demands.  For example, on Aug. 15, 2010, Pedersen used nine different aliases on Facebook to contact the victim, relaying rape and murder fantasies, asserting that various individuals had watched her video and describing the various sexual acts that these individuals wanted to perform on her.

The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a dedicated Victim/Witness Unit that serves federal crime victims across the district’s 66 counties. Members of this unit notify victims of significant case events through the Department of Justice’s Victim Notification System (VNS). Such notice enables victims to participate in court proceedings and make their voices heard. Victim/Witness personnel accompany victims to court hearings and trials to ensure that victim participation in court proceedings is meaningful and to answer questions and explain the federal judicial process.

In addition to notification and court accompaniment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Unit provides essential services to victims, such as making referrals for counseling, securing temporary housing, assisting with access to victim compensation funds, and accompanying victims to court to provide support and guidance during the proceedings. These services provide tools victims need to reshape their futures.

Further information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is available at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.

The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award

Crystal Kipper was an 18-year-old Gladstone, Mo., resident who was murdered after her car broke down on Interstate 29, just north of Platte City, on Feb. 24, 1997. Ali Kemp was a 19-year-old Blue Valley North High School graduate who was murdered on June 18, 2002, while she worked at the Foxborough neighborhood swimming pool in Leawood, Kan.

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