SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A West Plains, Mo., man was convicted by a trial jury today of the sexual exploitation of a 13-month-old child and of distributing child pornography.

Kenneth Howard Worthy, 46, was found guilty 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.

Under federal statutes, Worthy is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for 45 minutes before returning guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, ending a trial that began Monday, Dec. 5.

This case is being 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 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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