James W. Kern, 51, a German citizen residing in the U.K., was sentenced Oct. 27 in the Northern District of Indiana to 240 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of producing child pornography. Kern was extradited from England to the United States for his prosecution. Following his prison term, the government will seek Kern's immediate deportation.
The charges against Kern stem from his July 2005 visit to the United States when he engaged in illicit sexual conduct and took sexually explicit photographs of a 12-year-old boy from Gary, Ind. This illegal conduct was discovered in May 2008 during an investigation into "suspicion of grooming" charges by British police, stemming from Kern's interactions with minor boys in the U.K.
During their investigation, British police searched Kern's home and computer and found pictures showing Kern with a minor boy standing outside a house, and pictures of the same minor boy posed lasciviously. The British police noticed that the house in the pictures looked more American than English. Further investigation of Kern's travel records revealed that he had visited the United States in July 2005 and provided a Gary, Ind. address to immigration officials upon his arrival at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Special agents with the ICE HSI Attaché Office in London looked up the address Kern provided using Google Earth and confirmed that the house they saw via Google matched the house seen in Kern's photographs of the minor victim.
"Today's sentence serves as a stern warning to predators that seek to sexually exploit innocent children," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE HSI office in Chicago. "Children who are sexually abused suffer a lifetime of trauma. This case shows how important it is for law enforcement agencies to work together to identify, arrest and prosecute brazen predators who travel across international borders to have sex with children."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.