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Press Release

Wirt County Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison for Child Pornography and Firearm Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

Defendant has a prior conviction for sexual abuse of a minor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Wirt County man was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison today for a child pornography crime and a firearms offense, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Dusten Shawn Cottrell, 40, of Palestine, previously pled guilty to possessing child pornography and being a prohibited person in possession of firearms.  Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Parkersburg Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.   

“Child pornographer. Meth user. Convicted felon in possession of firearms,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “West Virginia parents should sleep a little sounder tonight knowing that Cottrell has been taken off the streets and will be spending more than a decade in prison.   We are working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to put child predators behind bars.”

Cottrell admitted that on December 7, 2017, he possessed images and videos of prepubescent minors engaged in sex acts. The investigation revealed that Cottrell was using a cell-phone application, Kik, to access, download, and distribute child pornography. Cottrell further admitted to possessing over 600 images and videos of minors engaged in sex acts, and that some of those images involved sadistic conduct. Cottrell also admitted that on December 7, 2017, he was in possession of at least two firearms. Cottrell was not permitted to possess these firearms based upon a 1999 conviction in Jackson County, West Virginia, for first degree sexual abuse of a minor.  Defendant was also prohibited from possessing the firearms based upon his admitted weekly use of methamphetamine.

Upon his release from prison, Cottrell will be required to serve a term of supervised release of 20 years. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

First Assistant United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston and Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald are handled the prosecution. United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. imposed the sentence.

This case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit


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Updated September 11, 2018

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Childhood