Protecting Children From Online Traps: What Can Safe Organizations Do?

Charles Ray Sheppard of Kansas City, Missouri has been sentenced to 17 years and six months in federal prison without parole.

Sheppard, 33, pled guilty to one count of receiving child pornography over the internet and one count of possessing child pornography.

Sheppard admitted he had sexual contact with a five- or six-year-old child victim when he was 18- or 19-years-old. Then, he reconnected with the child victim through Facebook Messenger in 2017, when the child was 13. The two exchanged pornographic photos during their online conversations.

Investigators seized two cell phones from Sheppard. One phone also contained several conversations between Sheppard and another user of the Kik application on which Sheppard requested, and received, images and videos of child pornography of unknown minor children.

Investigators found 38 photos and two videos of child pornography in the Kik communications found in the phone.

Sheppard also sent several nude images of himself to a 14-year-old child victim. Sheppard also admitted that he performed live sexual acts with a 13-year-old child victim on the Kik app.

When police arrested Sheppard in June 2020, he owned a third cell phone that contained child pornography. DOJ, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri "KC Man Sentenced to 17 Years for Child Pornography" https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdmo/pr/kc-man-sentenced-17-years-child-pornography (Nov. 30, 2021).

 

Commentary and Checklist

According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in FY 2018, out of the 69,425 cases reported to the agency, 1,414 involved child pornography.

Of the total child pornography cases, 45.5 percent of offenders were sentenced for trafficking child pornography; 43.3 percent were sentenced for possessing child pornography; and 11.2 percent were sentenced for receiving child pornography.

Also, 99.3 percent of child pornography offenders were men, and 76.5 percent of pornography offenders have little or no criminal history.

Every year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reviews more than 25 million images. That is equivalent to 480,769 images per week.

The perpetrator in the above matter utilized social media and other apps like Kik to distribute pornographic images and videos of children. Organizations that work with children and provide computers must restrict social media applications, including online chatrooms, as well as do the following:

  • Keep all computer equipment in a public space;
  • Review all online visit history of each machine;
  • Require a log in to track how the computer is used; and
  • Train personnel on online child pornography, sexting, online sexual extortion and other online crimes.
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