Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography, Faces 15 Years in Prison
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Columbia, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to producing and possessing child pornography.
Justin Gene Hull, 33, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to the charges contained in an Aug. 24, 2016, federal indictment.
By pleading guilty today, Hull admitted that he used a child victim to produce child pornography on Dec. 9, 2015. Hull also admitted that he was in possession of child pornography from December 2014 to December 2015.
A detective in the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force received a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Oct. 6, 2015, regarding a complaint from Dropbox. Hull had uploaded approximately 71 videos believe to contain child pornography to his Dropbox account. Investigators examined Hull’s Dropbox records, which indicated that approximately 390 videos (with titles consistent with child pornography) had been uploaded between July 2014 and July 2015.
On Dec. 10, 2015, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hull’s residence and seized a cell phone. During an examination of the phone, the Kik application was found to be installed on the phone, and numerous chats of a sexual nature were discovered. During various Kik chats, Hull claimed to have 400 child pornography videos, and during the chats he provided links to child pornography files stored on Dropbox. The content of the messages indicated that Hull was exchanging child pornography with other Kik users.
During a Dec. 9, 2015, conversation with a 16-year-old Kik user, Hull requested and received pornographic images she took of herself.
A total of 478 images depicting child pornography were found on Hull’s cell phone, the majority of which were thumbnail images associated with Dropbox. Other child pornography images were found associated with Skype and Kik. Numerous videos were found on the phone, as well as cached videos related to Kik and Dropbox.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government will recommend that Hull receive a sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the FBI, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the St. Charles Cyber Crimes Forensic Laboratory.
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."