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Child Exploitation

US Army soldier pleads guilty to producing child pornography

SPRINGFIELD — A soldier from Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., pleaded guilty Thursday to producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips for the Western District of Missouri. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigative Command (CID).

Lawrence Ellrick, 35, of Ft. Leonard Wood, pleaded guilty Dec. 15 before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to the charge contained in a Sept. 28 federal indictment. Ellrick remains in federal custody pending a sentencing hearing.

Ellrick admitted that he used a minor, identified as "Jane Doe," to produce child pornography between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2010.

By pleading guilty, Ellrick agreed to forfeit to the government a computer hard drive, a laptop computer, a desktop computer and a digital camera, all of which were used to commit the offenses.

Under federal statutes, Ellrick is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher, Western District of Missouri, prosecuted the case.

The investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, where pools federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or via its online tip form. 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.