Three Defendants Plead Guilty Resulting from Separate Project Safe Childhood Investigations in Southwest Georgia
ALBANY, Ga. – Three defendants entered guilty pleas in federal court today resulting from three separate Project Safe Childhood investigations centered in Southwest Georgia.
Larry Dewayne Goldsmith, 23, of Indianapolis, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor and faces a minimum of ten years up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Jawara Kitt, 29, of Albany, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child sexual abuse material and faces a minimum of five years up to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Walter Kenneth Rathel, 56, of Donalsonville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child sexual abuse material and faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
In addition, all three defendants will have to register as a sex offender upon release from federal prison. U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner is presiding over these cases. Sentencings are expected to occur within 90 days.
“Finding and stopping predators who seek to exploit or sexually abuse children is of utmost importance to our office and our law enforcement partners,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “We will use every resource at our disposal to track down dangerous sex offenders who target children and bring them to justice.”
“The pain and harm caused to the children are irreparable,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will continue to work hard toward protecting our nation’s children from such individuals that are so clearly focused on doing them harm.”
“These cases send a clear message to child predators that HSI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will tirelessly seek justice for children who are preyed upon by individuals like these defendants,” said Katrina Berger, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia. “We are thankful that these individuals are no longer able to prey upon children.”
Goldsmith’s plea agreement is sealed at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protect the victim.
Kitt admitted in his plea agreement to distributing child sexual abuse material online and through social media depicting children under the age of 12-years-old, including infants and toddlers, being raped and sexually assaulted by adults. Kitt’s activities were discovered in Sept. 2021 as part of an active FBI investigation into the production and distribution of child sexual abuse material online. An undercover FBI agent was contacted by Kitt via the instant messaging app Kik; Kitt inquired if the undercover agent was an “active dad” or a person who has access to a child and is actively sexually abusing the child. Kitt distributed child sexual abuse material to the undercover agent during the course of the investigation. A federal search warrant was executed at Kitt’s Albany residence in Jan. 2022, where agents found Kitt distributed videos depicting child sexual abuse material 144 times in three weeks, between Oct. 19 - Nov. 8, 2021. Kitt was taken into federal custody on April 14, 2022.
According to court records, Rathel was discovered to be in possession of child sexual abuse material during the course of an ongoing investigation targeting child predators by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in April 2021. A special agent with HSI was monitoring a certain account on the instant messaging app Kik and saw an individual post a MEGA link to numerous files of child pornography that was owned by Rathel. Agents obtained a federal search warrant and conducted a search of Rathel’s Donalsonville residence on July 13, 2021, finding 49 images and 139 videos of child sexual abuse material on two of his devices, as well as child sexual abuse materials on his Amazon account.
These cases were 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 the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Goldsmith’s case was investigated by FBI with assistance from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. Kitt’s case was investigated by FBI. Rathel’s case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Donalsonville Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melody Ellis is prosecuting the cases.