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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Washington Man Receives 19 Year Sentence In Child Pornography Case

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on April 28, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, KEITH CLIFFORD CUNNINGHAM, 70, of Kent, Washington, was sentenced to 228 months imprisonment followed by 5 years supervised release.

Cunningham was sentenced in connection with his January 2014 bench trial where he was found guilty. In a trial brief filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L Peterson, the government stated that the defendant Keith Clifford "Casey" Cunningham had traveled around several states, including Montana, due to his work on pipelines. In mid-August 2011, Cunningham was in Stanford, Montana. Cunningham had been intermittently visiting Stanford and frequenting the local diner for a couple years. On August 18, 2011, Cunningham saw an 8 year old girl in a local diner. Cunningham learned the girl's mother would be out of town for the day, and knew the girl was going to the local swimming pool that day.

That day, Cunningham befriended the child at the public swimming pool. Cunningham groomed the child throughout the day by doing such things as challenging her to play games at the pool, promising her chocolate bars, letting the child drive his vehicle while seated on his lap, and acting as though he was looking out for the child's well-being while her mother was out of town. Eventually, Cunningham took the little girl to the Judith Basin County Fairgrounds where he produced child pornography of the 8 year old girl. During an interview with law enforcement officers, Cunningham admitted he produced the images of the child with his digital camera stating that the child was acting "sexy" and wanted him to take the photographs.

The Grand Jury indicted Cunningham for production of child pornography in violation of federal law, and he was convicted of the crime at a bench trial on January 14, 2014. At trial, there was also evidence that Cunningham had previously purchased videos depicting child pornography online.

The United States' Attorneys Office for the District of Montana is committed to the safety and well-being of every child and has placed a high priority on combating sexual exploitation of minors. This case was prosecuted by an Assistant U.S. Attorney specifically designated to be a Project Safe Childhood for the District of Montana. Project Safe Childhood is a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. The threat of sexual predators soliciting children for physical sexual contact is well-known and serious. The danger of sexual perpetrators who produce child pornography - like Mr. Cunningham -- is equally, if not more, dramatic and disturbing.

Through a network of federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. Project Safe Childhood is implemented through partnerships including the organizations who were involved in this case: Homeland Security Investigations, the Montana DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation, the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Fergus County Sheriff's Office, and the Judith Basin County Sheriff's Office.

Updated January 14, 2015