Hardin County Man Faces Federal Child Exploitation Charges
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States Attorney Russell Coleman today announced the charging of Matthew Lyons, 33, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for sex trafficking of a child, attempted production of child pornography, attempted online enticement, distribution and possession of child pornography.
“Despite the many unknowns of this pandemic some certainties can still be relied upon,” said United States Attorney Russell Coleman. “From the U.S. Attorney’s Office to the Secret Service, and from the Radcliff PD to the professionals of Attorney General Cameron’s Office, Kentucky law enforcement is collaborating like never before to protect our most vulnerable.”
“Partnerships among Kentucky’s law enforcement community are essential in our fight to end the exploitation of children and go after those who commit crimes against them,” said Attorney General Cameron. “I’m grateful to U.S. Attorney Coleman and his team for working with our Cyber Crimes Unit to bring these charges.”
According to the Criminal Complaint filed on April 23, 2020, law enforcement officials became aware of Lyons’s criminal conduct after receiving a complaint that a minor had posted on social media about engaging in sexual activity with an adult in exchange for money. Radcliff Police Detective Richard Carman interviewed two minors, (John Doe 1 and 2), seized their mobile devices, and was granted consent to search those devices by the minors’ legal guardians. Detective Carman identified Lyons as the adult with whom John Doe 1 and 2 had engaged in sexual activity in exchange for money. He learned that Lyons had a prior conviction in 2008 Hardin District Court, Case No. 08-F-00401, for attempted prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor for sex, a violation of K.R.S. § 510.155(1). Detective Carman obtained and executed a Kentucky state search warrant to seize and search Lyons’s mobile device. Detective Carman turned over the cellular telephones to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Cybercrime Unit for forensic examination.
DCI Detective Michael Littrell conducted the examinations of the cellular telephones. On Lyons’s phone, he discovered more than 1,500 image and video files that were identified by hash values of known child sexual abuse material. In review of the remaining media files, he found hundreds more images and videos that were familiar to Detective Littrell from previous investigations and were obvious depictions of actual minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The images were stored in a pin-code protected application in a “Frequently Used” folder on Lyons’s iPhone’s main screen. The images were stored in more than 250 categorized folders.
Further examination of Lyons’s iPhone revealed that on or about April 1, 2020, he was communicating with at least one 14-year-old boy (John Doe 1), on the Grindrsocial media app. A later interview with John Doe 1 revealed that Lyons exchanged photographs and conversations with the boy via the app, then transitioned to text messaging. Lyons agreed to pay John Doe 1 $50.00 in exchange for Lyons performing oral sex on John Doe 1. Lyons and John Doe 1 agreed to meet at a convenience store in Hardin County, Kentucky. That same day, Lyons traveled to the convenience store and met two 14-year old boys (John Doe 1 and John Doe 2). Lyons picked up the boys in his 2017 Chevrolet Silverado truck and drove them to a Dollar General store parking lot. Lyons performed oral sex on both boys. One of the boys videoed the sex act. The video was recovered from Lyons’s phone as well as the phone of one of the boys. Lyons paid John Doe 1 $70.00 and John Doe 2 $60.00.
While reviewing Lyons’s phone, Detective Littrell also discovered a chat conversation from February 16, 2020, between Lyons and a boy named “Trevor” who indicated he was 16 years old. During this conversation Trevor, at the request and persuasion of Lyons, sent two photos and two videos of himself engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Lyons also sent Trevor sexually explicit images of himself.
Detective Littrell also located a chat conversation between Lyons and another adult, Robert Alan Thompson. Further investigation revealed that Thompson was a middle school teacher in Frankfort, Kentucky, during the 2017-2018 school year after which he moved to the Hardin County School District and continued teaching middle school. Lyons and Thompson engaged in a chat conversation on April 30, 2018. During the conversation, Lyons sent Thompson two photos of actual minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Law enforcement officials executed a search warrant on Thompson’s residence and arrested him on state charges earlier this week.
If convicted at trial, and due to his prior conviction, Lyons faces not less than 25 years and not more than 50 years in prison for production of child pornography; not less than 10 years and not more than life for the attempted enticement and sex trafficking of a child; not less than 15 years and not more than 40 years for distribution of child pornography; and not less than 10 years and not more than 20 years for possession of child pornography. The charges also carry terms of at least five years and could be up to any number of years, including life, of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless. The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office Department of Criminal Investigations and Radcliff Police Department with assistance from the Kentucky State Police and United States Secret Service conducted the investigation.
A Criminal Complaint is an accusation only and
the person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' 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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.