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Child Exploitation

Former junior high school music teacher sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A former music teacher was sentenced Tuesday to 7 ½ years in federal prison for possessing and receiving child pornography via the Internet. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

William Harold Laursen, 57, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced in the Western District of Missouri Oct. 5 to 90 months in federal prison without parole. Laursen, a professional jazz pianist, was a music teacher at Kansas City Academy in Kansas City, Mo., and at CS-1 Junior High School in Prairie Village, Kan.

The court also ordered Laursen to pay $5,000 in restitution to one of his victims, who has been identified as the subject of a nearly two-hour movie that Laursen admitted to downloading over the Internet on Christmas Eve 2007. The victim, who was 10 or 11 years old at the time, was videotaped while being subjected to multiple acts of sexual abuse by her father, including bondage. Laursen viewed this movie, as well as other movies of the same victim, multiple times over a period of months, and never deleted them from his computer. The victim is asking that every person who knowingly possesses these images be made jointly and severally liable with all other possessors to provide restitution for counseling costs, attorney's fees, and other expenses. Under the court's order, Laursen will only have to pay $3,000 in restitution if he pays the full amount within 30 days.

Laursen pleaded guilty on June 23, 2009 to five counts of receiving child pornography over the Internet and one count of possessing child pornography. He admitted to viewing online child pornography almost on a daily basis, from January 2007 to February 2008, using the same computer that he shared with his teenage daughter. Laursen's collection of child pornography exceeded 5,000 images and 70 movies. This conservative estimate only includes the files that were still active on Laursen's computer, and marks the point at which the reviewing law enforcement agent stopped counting. Laursen's digital collection is among the largest in the history of child exploitation prosecutions in the Western District of Missouri.

Laursen was contacted by ICE HSI agents during an investigation into commercial child pornography websites that required visitors to pay for subscriptions to access the member-restricted sites. Laursen admitted that he purchased access to a website that allowed him to download child pornography. The government has cited credible evidence that Laursen purchased two monthly subscriptions to additional child pornography websites in September 2006, about a month before his teenage daughter moved in with him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham, Western District of Missouri, prosecuted the case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

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.