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Child Exploitation

Church missionary pleads guilty to producing child pornography

ORLANDO, Fla. – A church missionary pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography Thursday after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Warren Scott Kennell, 45, of West Milford, N.J., faces between 15 and 30 years in prison.

According to court documents, between December 2008 and August 2011, Kennell produced images of child pornography involving two minor victims. According to the plea agreement, on May 31, Kennell arrived at Orlando International Airport from Panama City, Panama. After retrieving his luggage, Kennell was escorted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) secondary inspection area.

After Kennell was seated, an HSI special agent searched Kennell's belongings and found three thumb drives and one external hard drive. During an interview, Kennell said he had worked in Brazil as a missionary for Sanford-based New Tribes Mission. He also acknowledged he had been doing missionary work for several years. Kennell told the HSI special agent he had never inappropriately touched a child or taken pornographic images of a child. He said he did not have child pornography in his possession.

After Kennell made these statements, Florida Department of Law Enforcement computer forensic agents, assisting HSI special agents at the scene, initially discovered two images of child pornography on Kennell's external hard drive.

When shown the first image, Kennell acknowledged he was the man in the picture performing a sex act on the prepubescent female. Kennell said that he believed the girl was about 12 years old at the time the picture was taken. When shown the second image, Kennell admitted he had taken the picture, and the girl in the second image was about 12 years old at the time. Kennell further admitted that both images had been taken in Brazil while he was on a missionary assignment.

Further forensic examination of Kennell’s external hard drive showed more than 940 images of child pornography. The child victims are members of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon where Kennell was establishing a church.

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 1-866-347-2423 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.