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Press Release

Federal Jury Finds White Earth Man Guilty of Production of Child Pornography on the Red Lake Reservation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. –  A federal jury found a White Earth man guilty of production of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to the evidence presented at trial, in December 2020, Ryan Edward Thompson, 34, a.k.a. “Ryan Edward Wayne Townsend,” knowingly used a minor in sexually explicit activity to produce pornography images. 

Using her school-issued laptop to message the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the 13-year-old victim disclosed that the defendant, whom she had recently moved in with, began sleeping in her room at night and sexually abusing her. Law enforcement responded and later discovered photographs of a sexual nature had been taken with the victim’s own cell phone. 

Following a three-day trial before Judge John R. Tunheim in U.S. District Court, Thompson was found guilty yesterday on two counts of production and attempted production of child pornography. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Red Lake Department of Public Safety. The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the White Earth Nation Indian Child Welfare Services, the Red Lake Nation Victim Services, Fosston Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Family Advocacy Center of Northern Minnesota.  

The 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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the 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

If you need suicide or mental health crisis support, or are worried about someone else, please call or text 988 or visit the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline chat to connect with a trained crisis specialist. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary S. Riverso and Laura M. Provinzino tried this case.

Updated February 2, 2024

Project Safe Childhood