News and Press Releases

project safe childhood

former college professor sentenced for child pornography,
illegal firearms

October 21, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nevada, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for possessing child pornography and for illegally possessing several firearms.

Thomas E. Ruley, 59, of Nevada, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to five years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Ruley to forfeit to the government four computer towers, a computer server, two flash drives and three CDs, all of which were used to commit the child pornography offense, as well as the firearms.

Ruley was a professor at Cottey College, an all-women’s school in Nevada, at the time of the offense.

On April 16, 2010, Ruley pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, which was discovered during a search of his home and computer equipment by law enforcement officers on July 4, 2008. Ruley admitted that some of the more than 600 images of child pornography involved a minor who was younger than 12 years of age, and portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct.

Ruley also pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms. Ruley admitted that, while he had a marijuana grow operation inside his residence and was an unlawful user of marijuana, he was in possession of a .38-caliber revolver and five rounds of .30 ammunition, a .32-caliber pistol with seven rounds of ammunition, a .22-caliber rifle and a 30-30 caliber level action rifle. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who is an unlawful user of a controlled substance to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Nevada, Mo., Police Department.

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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