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Press Release

Lincoln Man Sentenced to Thirteen Years for Possession of Child Pornography

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

United States Attorney Steven Russell announced that Aaron Joseph Kearney, 50, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was sentenced on January 20, 2023 by United States District Court Judge John M. Gerrard to 13 years imprisonment following his conviction for possession of child pornography. After he completes his prison sentence, Kearney will also serve 10 years on supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. Kearney was further ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to a victim, and $5,000 in special assessments. Kearney pleaded guilty to the offense on October 6, 2022.

Agents with the Department of Homeland Security in Phoenix, Arizona, were investigating an account on an instant messaging platform that was involved in the receipt of child pornography. They were able to obtain information about other accounts interacting with the account under investigation in Phoenix, and which were exchanging child pornography material. One of the accounts they discovered, and which was later found to belong to Kearney, posted messages on August 26, 2021, requesting child pornography material. On August 29, 2021, Kearney’s account posted six videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Three of the videos involved prepubescent children.

After tracing that account back to Kearney, agents with Homeland Security Investigations in Nebraska obtained a search warrant for Kearney’s residence in Lincoln. The warrant was executed on January 27, 2022. Among the items seized was Kearney’s cellphone. Kearney was home at the time the search warrant was executed and he was interviewed. Kearney confessed that the account in question was his and that he had used that account to seek out child pornography.

Kearney’s phone was later examined. It was found to contain two videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The examination of his phone also showed three applications installed on his phone that are used to clean and delete files from the device.

One of the factors the district court considered in determining Kearney’s sentence was the fact that Kearney was previously convicted on April 7, 2008, in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, of possession of child pornography.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and 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


Mike Norris, Criminal Chief (402) 661-3700

Updated January 26, 2023

Project Safe Childhood