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Press Release

More Charges Against Springfield Man Who Managed Online Chat Group to Share Child Pornography

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

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that additional charges have been filed against a Springfield, Mo., man who managed an online chat group to share child pornography.

Anthony Cotter, 30, of Springfield, was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Cotter on Oct. 5, 2017, and includes an additional charge.

Today’s indictment alleges that Cotter used a minor, identified as Jane Doe #1, to produce child pornography from Jan. 1, 2015, to Oct. 5, 2017. The indictment also includes the original charge against Cotter of receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

According to an affidavit filed in support of today’s criminal complaint, Cotter was a group administrator for a very active online chat group of 50 members who shared images and videos of child pornography with each other. Cotter also told investigators that he had been sexually abusing a minor female and taking photographs of her in various states of nudity.

The investigation began on March 9, 2017, when federal agents assisted the New York State Police with a child exploitation investigation that resulted in the arrest and prosecution of a member of Cotter’s chat group. Investigators reviewed communications that occurred in the group, including Cotter’s involvement as he monitored other users and warned them to follow the rules of the chat group. Cotter actively encouraged other users to post child pornography, the affidavit says, and posted several video files to the chat room himself.

According to the affidavit, members of the chat group were receiving and distributing videos and images of child pornography that depicted children from infants to approximately 12 years old.  The images and videos depicted various types of sexual abuse to the children perpetrated by adult males and adult females; some of the images and videos depicted bondage and bestiality involving the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12.

Investigators also identified Cotter as the source of a Skype account that was being used to distribute images and videos of child pornography, the affidavit says. Multiple cyber tips related to the account were received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Officers executed a search warrant at Cotter’s residence and arrested Cotter.
Larson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt.

This case is being 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 Cybercrimes 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 . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

Updated October 18, 2017

Project Safe Childhood