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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Springfield Man Pleads Guilty to Child Sexual Exploitation

Faces at Least 15 Years in Prison Following Investigation in the United Kingdom

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield man who was the subject of an undercover investigation in the United Kingdom pleaded guilty in federal court today to child sexual exploitation charges.

Kody Ryan Kelso, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of the sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography and to one count of using the internet and a cell phone to coerce and entice a child under the age of 14 to engage in illicit sexual activity. Kelso has been detained in federal custody without bond since his arrest on June 16, 2021.

Both of the offenses to which Kelso pleaded guilty today are related to an undercover law enforcement operation in the United Kingdom. Kelso used an online service named My LOL, a teen dating site with chat features, to contact a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, but in reality was an undercover law enforcement officer. Kelso asked her to have sexual intercourse with him and repeatedly requested sexually explicit images during online chats from Jan. 7 to Feb. 2, 2021. Kelso also provided his email address and asked her to use Google hangouts to send sexually explicit photos outside the MYLOL platform.

In addition to the information from the United Kingdom, investigators received two Cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding Kelso’s online activity and posting a child pornography video online.

On June 16, 2021, Springfield police officers executed a search warrant at Kelso’s apartment and he was arrested. Officers seized 19 electronic devices. Investigators found 26 images and 39 video files of child pornography on Kelso’s computers.

Under federal statutes, Kelso is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. 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 Stephanie L. Wan. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations.

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 July 6, 2022