News and Press Releases

project safe childhood

northland man pleads guilty to producing child porn,
faces 30 years in federal prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2012

             KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to producing child pornography.

            Cory E. Stahl, 32, of Kansas City-North, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to the charge contained in a Jan. 25, 2011, federal indictment.

            By pleading guilty, Stahl admitted that he used a minor (identified as John Doe), with whom he had a relationship through a volunteer mentoring organization, to create hundreds of images of child pornography.

            Stahl began sponsoring the minor victim through a local mentoring service in 2006, when the victim was nine years old. As a mentor, Stahl was placed in a position of trust and interacted with the minor victim on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. The victim spent a great deal of time at Stahl’s home, and was taken by Stahl on trips outside the Kansas City area and out of state.

            According to today’s plea agreement, a cooperating witness in Baltimore, Md., told FBI agents that Stahl sent pornographic photographs of the victim to him over the Internet. The cooperating witness was arrested by FBI agents in September 2010 for distributing child pornography and provided the agents with information about Stahl.

            When federal agents visited Stahl’s home in January 2011, they located a pornographic photograph of the victim on Stahl’s computer and seized his computer equipment, storage devices and camera media. Investigators conducted a forensic examination and found 740 pornographic images of the victim, some of which were taken in Stahl’s apartment. Among those images were 30 photographs of Stahl and the victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct with each other, which were created in 2008 when the victim was 10 years old.

            Under the terms of today’s binding plea agreement, the government and the defendant jointly ask the court to impose a sentence of 30 years in federal prison without parole, which is the maximum statutory penalty for this offense. The court took acceptance of the plea agreement under advisement until the pre-sentence investigative report is prepared. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

            The day after Stahl was first interviewed by federal agents about some of the pornographic images, he was traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 59 approximately five miles south of St. Joseph, Mo., when he crossed the center line and struck a southbound commercial truck. He sustained serious injuries and was life-flighted to a St. Joseph hospital. During an inventory search of his damaged vehicle prior to tow, officers located a notebook that contained a possible suicide note, letters apologizing for his behavior that contained suicidal references and admissions of guilt, and Stahl’s passport.

After Stahl was released from the hospital, while on bond in this criminal case, the FBI learned that he was attempting to contact the victim. A warrant was issued for his arrest for violating the conditions of his bond. At the time of his arrest Stahl was in possession of a thumb drive that contained multiple images of child pornography in addition to numerous nonpornographic images of the victim. Stahl admitted to using a computer in violation of his pretrial release conditions.

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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