News and Press Releases

Former youth camp worker pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of children, faces at least 15 years in prison

May 23, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former YMCA camp employee pleaded guilty in federal court today to the sexual exploitation of children.

Matthew O'Dell, 29, of Springfield, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charge contained in an Oct. 18, 2011, federal indictment. O'Dell, who was formerly employed at YMCA's Camp Wakonda in Lawrence County, Mo., remains in federal custody.

O’Dell admitted that he made a video recording of a 13-year-old minor, identified as “W.L.,” between Jan. 1, 2005, and May 30, 2006. The video, which was recorded at O’Dell’s residence, depicts W.L. engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

On Aug. 4, 2009, Springfield police officers executed a search warrant upon a storage facility in which O’Dell had placed his belongings. The officers located a digital video tape containing the video recording of W.L.

By pleading guilty today, O’Dell acknowledged that the conduct charged in any of the remaining counts of the indictment, as well as all other uncharged related criminal activity, may be considered as “relevant conduct” and used by the court to determine an appropriate sentence.

Under federal statutes, O’Dell is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit  For more information about Internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

Return to Top