West Des Moines Man Sentenced to 60 Years in Federal Prison for Child Exploitation Crimes
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa
Des Moines, IA – A West Des Moines man was sentenced today to 60 years in prison for multiple child exploitation offenses.
For the last twelve years, Jonathan Francis Speidel, age 31, of West Des Moines, used social media platforms, including Snapchat, Kik, TikTok, and MeetMe, to communicate with minor females. During the conversations, Speidel directed numerous children to take explicit photos or videos of themselves. To persuade children to produce and send him child pornography, Speidel used various tactics. Among other things, Speidel misrepresented facts about himself, such as his name, employment information, and age; he paid children in exchange for sexually explicit content; he claimed to be looking for models; and he sent children child pornography or depictions of him masturbating. The minor victims ranged in age from 8 to 17 years old and were located across the United States, including several victims who lived in or near Des Moines.
Over the same period, Speidel collected and exchanged child pornography using various internet sites. On or about March 30, 2022, Speidel knowingly possessed visual depictions of child pornography, including over 800 images and over 200 videos, some of which included minors younger than twelve years old.
Speidel also traveled over state lines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a child. While living in Oregon from October 2018 to August 2019, Speidel engaged in a sexual relationship with a child, who was between 14 and 15 years old. Speidel was charged in Oregon with several counts of sexual abuse. Those charges remain pending. After being charged, Speidel returned to the Des Moines area some time in 2020. In September 2020, Speidel flew to Oregon, picked up the child, who by that time had turned 16 years old, and drove the child to Washington. Speidel took the child to Washington, where the age of consent is 16, younger than the age of consent in Oregon. The purpose of Speidel’s trip was to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the child and to produce child pornography. In Washington, Speidel did both of those things with the child.
Following his prison term, Speidel will be on supervised release for life and required to register as a sex offender. There is no parole in the federal system.
After the sentencing, FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “We are proud of the work of our FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force in Des Moines. This joint investigation brought an end to Jonathan Speidel’s appalling and heinous crimes. Today’s sentence ensures Speidel will no longer be allowed to victimize children. It also sends a message to predators, the FBI and our federal, state, and local partners will remain relentless to ensure children are protected.”
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Cyber Crime Bureau Special Agent in Charge, and Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Commander Nathaniel McLaren said “This case highlights the collaboration of information between ICAC Task Force agencies combating this type of child sexual exploitation. The DCI Cyber Crime Bureau - Iowa ICAC Task Force worked closely alongside Ohio Law Enforcement, and Oregon (State) Law Enforcement to arrest the suspect. This collaboration ultimately led to the identification of numerous victims nationwide and multiple victims locally in the Des Moines area.”
United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa said “Speidel is a dangerous child predator, pure and simple. Today’s sentence provides some degree of justice for Speidel’s actions to the victims, who in the face of indescribable trauma, have courageously contributed to help prevent Speidel from harming any other minors. For over a decade, he targeted, manipulated and enticed minors, exchanging thousands of electronic messages, with the goal to produce child pornography and engage in illegal sex acts. Our thanks to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI)’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force and their continued dedication to protecting children and bringing individuals like Speidel to justice.”
The case was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Cyber Crime Bureau and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force in Des Moines, the North Olmstead, Ohio Police Department, and the Gladstone, Oregon Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Essley prosecuted the case.
The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Department of Justice’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. Any persons having knowledge of a child being sexually abused are encouraged to call the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-284-7821.
Parents and guardians are encouraged to have open and ongoing conversations about internet safety with children. For more information about internet safety education, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc and click on the Publication & Resources tab.
Public Information Officer
Updated April 19, 2023
Project Safe Childhood