This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), and the Gentry County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office.
Jeffrey Dale Wiederholt, 35, of Stanberry, Mo., was sentenced to 840 months in federal prison without the possibility of parole.
Wiederholt pleaded guilty Oct. 16, 2012 to one count of attempting to produce child pornography, one count of transporting child pornography, and one count of receiving child pornography.
According to court documents, Wiederholt sexually abused a child under the age of 12 on numerous occasions over the course of about seven months in order to produce child pornography. Wiederholt’s crime was characterized in court documents as unusually vicious. His forcible abuse of the child victim included his use of duct tape (to cover her mouth during these assaults) and coercion involving threats of murder. He then bragged of his sexual abuse to those individuals with whom he actively traded child pornography.
In August 2010, federal agents learned that Wiederholt was actively trading child pornography with a number of individuals. Wiederholt was caught trading child pornography with another person who was the target of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Air Force’s OSI.
Upon a review of Wiederholt’s email account and personal cell phone, as well as his postings on an image-hosting website that caters to traders of child pornography, it was apparent that he had produced images of child pornography. Multiple emails and message board postings dated Dec. 29, 2010, and Wiederholt’s own subsequent confession, confirmed that he had used a minor to produce child pornography. He had also saved an image of the child victim on his personal cell phone. Additionally, he communicated to multiple individuals, as well as later stating in his confessions, that he was sexually abusing this minor.
A forensic examination of Wiederholt’s laptop computer revealed that he possessed at least 1,238 images and 33 video files of child pornography. Wiederholt’s email account revealed that he had distributed and received dozens of emails containing numerous images and videos of child pornography. Some of these images depicted acts of a sadistic and masochistic nature.
Court documents further cite Wiederholt’s extensive criminal history, including a history of sex-related offenses and inappropriate contact with minor females. Wiederholt has multiple convictions for repeated contact with a 15-year-old minor. Even after being confronted by law enforcement, Wiederholt continued to contact this 15-year-old minor and express his "love" for her.
This investigation was 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-DHS-2ICE 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 working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.