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Justice News

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Springfield Tutor Pleads Guilty to Sexual Exploitation of 12-Year-Old Student

Faces at Least 15 Years in Prison

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Springfield, Mo., man who worked as a private tutor pleaded guilty in federal court today to the sexual exploitation of a child who was a former student.

John Paul Sparapani, 29, of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to using a minor to produce child pornography.

On Aug. 16, 2017, Sparapani pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet. However, a 12-year-old student who was tutored by Sparapani came forward on Aug. 25, 2017, and disclosed that he sexually assaulted her. When the victim’s mother told her about Sparapani’s child pornography conviction, the child victim disclosed that Sparapani had sexually assaulted her during tutoring sessions since the age of 10. 

On Jan. 23, 2018, the court granted Sparapani’s motion to withdraw that guilty plea; the original indictment will be dismissed in lieu of the charge filed today.

An officer with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force identified Sparapani’s computer as sharing child pornography on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network on May 25, 2015. Officers executed a search warrant at Sparapani’s residence on Dec. 21, 2015, and seized two laptop computers, three hard drives and a cell phone, which contained multiple images and videos of child pornography.

Soon after Sparapani pleaded guilty to the federal indictment stemming from that investigation, a former student disclosed to her mother that Sparapani had sexually assaulted her. According to today’s plea agreement, Sparapani used a private room at a public library for the tutoring sessions. The child victim told investigators that Sparapani took photographs of her with his cell phone. She also said he gave her candy and Pokemon cards as rewards.

Under federal statutes, Sparapani is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 30 years 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 Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

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."

Project Safe Childhood
Updated February 21, 2018