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May 18, 2023Washington, DC, United StatesChild Exploitation

4 men sentenced for online sexual abuse enterprise after HSI Washington, D.C. investigation

WASHINGTON — A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. investigation resulted in federal prison sentences for four men who engaged in a child exploitation enterprise. Kyle William Leishear, 43, of Bayonet Point, Florida, received a 20-year prison sentence May 11. On April 25, Leishear’s three co-defendants received prison sentences for their roles in the enterprise: Christopher William Kuehner, 38, of Bremerton, Washington, received a 20-year sentence; Jacob Royce Mullins, 20, of South Webster, Ohio, received a seven-year sentence; and Matthew Martin, 25, of Lancaster, Wisconsin, received a sentence of six years and eight months in prison.

“The actions of the four individuals in this case were nothing short of reprehensible,” said HSI Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon. “They shamefully targeted the most vulnerable members of our community for their own perverse desires. HSI Washington, D.C. remains committed to protecting children from abuse and holding accountable those individuals who would victimize minors. HSI remains vigilant in watching for indicators of child exploitation throughout our communities.”

According to the HSI Washington, D.C. investigation, Leishear, Kuehner, Mullins and Martin were prominent members of the website, which was dedicated to, among other things, child sexual exploitation. After becoming a member of the website, Leishear enticed multiple minor victims, including one as young 12 years old, to produce and share sexually explicit images. Kuehner also repeatedly induced minor victims to produce and post sexually explicit images and videos to the site.

Leishear also attempted to distribute child sexual abuse material on the website. Mullins and Martin both repeatedly distributed child sexual abuse material images on the website, and Mullins enticed another website user to produce and share sexually explicit images of a minor victim.

“We cannot and will not tolerate websites like that invite and encourage members to congregate, discuss and engage in the sexual exploitation of children and young women, to memorialize this exploitation, and to distribute illegal sexually explicit images of the victims,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to rooting out these websites and bringing to justice those who join them for the purpose of perpetuating the victimization of some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

“I am grateful for the hard work of our agents and prosecutors to seek justice in this horrific case. These defendants caused immeasurable trauma on their victims, amplified by the group’s online sharing of their abuse,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Jessica D. Aber. “This case shows that internet anonymity will not protect offenders from facing full accountability for their illegal online conduct.”

HSI Washington, D.C. investigated the case with significant assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

HSI Washington, D.C. strongly encourages anyone with information regarding child sexual exploitation to contact the HSI Tip Line at 866-DHS-2423 (866-347-2423).

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 05/18/2023