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Press Release

West Plains Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Sexual Exploitation of a Child

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

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A West Plains, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for the sexual exploitation of a 13-month-old child and distributing child pornography.

Kenneth Howard Worthy, 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 40 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Worthy to 15 years of supervised release following incarceration. Worthy will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison and will be subject to federal and state sex offender registration requirements, which may apply throughout his life.

On Dec. 6, 2022, Worthy was found guilty at trial of one count of the sexual exploitation of a child by producing child pornography and one count of distributing child pornography.

Worthy’s criminal activities came to light during an investigation of another individual involved with child pornography.  That individual informed investigators that Worthy had transmitted images of himself engaged in sexual acts with a child.

On March 4, 2021, law enforcement officers contacted Worthy at his residence. Worthy admitted that he had used a child victim under the age of two, identified in court documents as “John Doe,” to produce child pornography. Worthy also told investigators he sent pornographic images of the child victim to another person.

Officers seized Worthy’s cell phone. Investigators found 10 images of child pornography that depicted John Doe and Worthy.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cameron Beaver, James J. Kelleher and Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the West Plains, 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."

Updated December 14, 2023

Project Safe Childhood