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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Woman, Two Men Indicted for Sexual Exploitation of Children

Project Safe Childhood

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that three southern Missouri residents were indicted by a federal grand jury today in separate and unrelated cases of sexual child exploitation.

 

USA v. Penn

 

Chelese Penn, 24, of Hartville, Mo., was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Today’s indictment alleges that Penn attempted to use a minor, identified as Jane Doe #1, to produce child pornography between July 1, 2012, and Oct. 3, 2014. Penn is also charged with receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet during that time.

 

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 Cyber Crime Task Force.

 

USA v. Thomas

 

Kevin Robert Thomas, 42, of Bolivar, was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Today’s indictment alleges that Thomas received and distributed child pornography over the Internet from April 26 to May 2, 2013. Thomas is also charged with possessing child pornography on June 17, 2013.

 

The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Thomas to forfeit to the government a desktop computer and a laptop computer that were used to commit the alleged offenses.

 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Polk County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department.

 

USA v. Cannon

 

Christian Cannon, 42, of Lebanon, Mo., was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Today’s indictment alleges that Cannon received and distributed child pornography over the Internet between April 18 and July 21, 2014.

 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

 

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

 

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."

Updated January 20, 2015