Two Joplin residents are charged in federal court for the sexual exploitation of children.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri, says the men were charged in separate, but related, criminal complaints filed this week in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri.
43-year-old Gary McKinney remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on October 10th, 2018. He was a police officer with the Joplin, Missouri Police Department for about seven years until May 20th, 2006. He was then employed as an officer elsewhere. Court documents allege that McKinney was receiving and distributing child pornography over the internet.
A related federal criminal complaint filed on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018, charges 31-year-old Anthony Helsel with using a minor to produce child pornography. Helsel remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on October 9th, 2018.
According to documents filed in support of the criminal charges, the investigation began on September 17th, 2018, when a federal agent received a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Facebook reported that a user, later identified as Helsel, had uploaded a video file of the sexual assault of a 4-year-old victim.
On October 2nd, 2018, authorities say an investigator with the Kentucky Attorney General's Office notified local authorities that an undercover officer had made contact with Helsel during their investigation on the KIK messaging app. Helsel allegedly offered files of child pornography to the undercover officer and members of the KIK group, and sent the undercover officer images of child pornography.
Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Helsel's home and seized his cell phone. Helsel allegedly told officers he had engaged in sexual activity with a 4-year-old child and that he had taken video and still images of the abuse. Documents say Helsel told officers that when they arrived, he was talking with another user on KIK, who was later identified as Gary McKinney.
Documents state that Helsel used his cell phone to send several files, including child pornography, to McKinney on KIK on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018. After authorities executed the search warrant that same day, a federal special agent used Helsel's KIK account and user identity to engage in chats with McKinney.
On October 3rd, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at McKinney's home and seized his cell phone. Investigators say they found multiple chat conversations between McKinney and others, using an app called Telegram. The U.S. Attorney's Office says that in those conversations, McKinney talks about children engaging in sexually explicit activity. Authorities say numerous files of child pornography were allegedly exchanged between the users.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Miller. They were investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, the Joplin Police Department, and the Kentucky State Attorney General's Office.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri, points out that the charges contained in these complaints 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."
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