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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 8, 2019

Branson Sex Offender Sentenced to 15 Years for Child Pornography

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Branson, Mo., sex offender has been sentenced in federal court for receiving and distributing child pornography.

Bill Lawrence, Jr., 57, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Friday, April 5, to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Lawrence to 15 years of supervised release following incarceration.

Lawrence, who pleaded guilty on Aug. 28, 2018, has prior convictions for possessing child pornography and promoting child pornography.

According to court documents, the investigation began with two CyberTips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Lawrence had attached images of child pornography to at least two emails that were sent from his Google account. The images depicted prepubescent children being sexually abused or in sexual poses.

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Lawrence’s residence and seized his cell phone, which contained multiple images of child pornography. Lawrence admitted to officers that he used the Chat Hour application to both receive and distribute child pornography over the internet.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.


Project Safe Childhood
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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated April 8, 2019