Missouri man sentenced to 19 years for child sexual exploitation following a joint HSI, law enforcement partner investigation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri man who was undercover in the UK has been sentenced in federal court on child sexual abuse charges following a joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and a law enforcement partner.

Cody Ryan, 31, of Kelso, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bogue to 19 years and seven months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Kelso to spend 15 years on supervised release after his incarceration.

On July 6, Kelso pleaded guilty to one count of sexually exploiting a child to produce child pornography and one count of using the Internet and a cell phone to coerce and entice a child under the age of 14 to engage in unlawful sexual activity.

Both offenses to which Kelso pleaded guilty relate to an undercover law enforcement operation in the UK. Kelso used MyLOL, a teen dating site with chat features, to contact a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, but who was actually an undercover law enforcement officer. Kelso solicited the minor to have sex with him and repeatedly requested sexual images during online chats between January 7 and February 2, 2021. Kelso also provided his email address and asked the minor to use Google Hangouts to send sexually explicit photos off the premises. MyLOL platform.

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In addition to information from Europol, investigators received two cyber alerts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding Kelso’s online activities and the posting of child pornography videos online.

On June 16, 2021, Kelso was arrested by Springfield police after executing a search warrant at his apartment and seizing 19 electronic devices. Investigators found 26 child pornography images and 39 video files on Kelso’s computers. According to court documents, Kelso had several conversations with other users who clearly identified themselves as minors; he tried to make them create images of a sexual nature and entice them to engage in sexual activity. Records from MyLOL reveal that Kelso contacted 560 additional MyLOL users, all of whom were listed as between the ages of 13 and 17. He would start each conversation by asking if the child had an “age limit” and would introduce sexual topics.

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Kelso’s behavior wasn’t limited to MyLOL. On his devices, law enforcement discovered approximately 7,900 different chat threads with different users on several social media applications, including Discord, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Instagram, Kik, Skype and Text Now. Kelso sometimes sent these children child pornography and pornographic images of himself and requested nude images.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie L. Wan. It was investigated by HSI, the Springfield, Missouri Police Department and the FBI.

Safe childhood project

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Ministry of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Division of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood manages federal, state, and local resources to find, apprehend, and prosecute child sexual abusers, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information on Internet Safety Education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab.

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Homeland Security Investigations

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the US Department of Homeland Security responsible for investigating international crimes and threats, particularly those criminal organizations that use the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities across the United States and 93 overseas in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence is DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat child exploitation in your community on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.


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