SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A southwestern Missouri man was charged in federal court Thursday with sexually exploiting a 4-year-old girl to produce child pornography.
This criminal indictment resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); in cooperation with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force (SMCCTF); the police departments of Duneweg and Sarcoxie, Mo.; and the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff's Department.
Tony Lasiter, 31, of Duneweg, Mo., was charged via federal criminal complaint in Springfield.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Lasiter allegedly used his cell phone to take nude photos of a 4-year-old girl while she was in the bathtub, and again while she was lying in a bed with someone touching her in a sexual manner. Lasiter also allegedly downloaded the photos to his laptop computer and then transferred the files to a memory card. The files were discovered Aug. 28 when the victim's father noticed the memory card in the computer and opened the files. These photos were allegedly taken on three separate occasions between Aug. 13 and Aug. 28.
The charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.