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Press Release

Morrisville Man Sentenced to Over 7 Years for Distributing Child Pornography

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

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Cole Hess, 34, of Morrisville, Vermont, was sentenced today to serve 87 months in prison for distribution of a modified depiction of child pornography.  United States District Judge Christina Reiss also ordered Hess to serve a 15-year term of supervised release after his incarceration.

According to court records and proceedings, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a report from a social media company that a user “IncestKyle” had uploaded child pornography to their platform.  The images included children under the age of five engaged in sex acts with adults.  NCMEC referred the report to the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) because the IP addresses associated with the activity indicated the user “IncestKyle” was likely in Lamoille County, Vermont.  

ICAC investigators determined the IP address information was associated with various businesses, including a laundromat and a fast-food restaurant in Lamoille County, and that the cell phone utilized to access an email account linked with the social media profile “IncestKyle” had been purchased with defendant Hess’ debit card.  Bank records from Hess’ debit card showed purchases by Hess at the laundromat and fast-food restaurant around the times of the uploads of child pornography.  ICAC investigators also linked photographs from the social media platform to Hess’ former residence in Johnson, Vermont.  Hess subsequently admitted to using the social media account and having altered at least one of the images he distributed.  At the time of the criminal conduct for which Hess was sentenced today, Hess was subject to probationary supervision for a prior conviction for Possession of Child Pornography in Vermont Superior Court and faces additional proceedings involving his violations of probation.

United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the coordinated investigatory efforts of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Office of the Vermont Attorney General in this matter.  

Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt handled the prosecution.  Hess was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth, Esq.

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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Child Exploitation Obscenity Section, Criminal Division (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

Updated March 15, 2022

Project Safe Childhood