Former US Air Force member in Montana admits to child sexual exploitation charges
MISSOULA, Mont. – A former U.S. Air Force service member on Thursday admitted to enticing minor boys in Montana he met online into sending him sexually explicit images.
This guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme, District of Montana. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Raymond Larry Edward Kennedy, 24, of Kalispell, pleaded guilty to sexual exploiting a child and receiving child pornography. He faces a mandatory minimum 15 years to 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. He is currently in federal custody.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch presided, and he will recommend Kennedy’s guilty plea be accepted by Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, who is hearing the case.
Prosecutors said an investigation began in February 2017. The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, contacted an HSI special agent and member of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force seeking help with an online child exploitation case involving Kennedy. The Air Force discharged Kennedy on Feb. 6, 2017.
This investigation found that Kennedy met a minor boy who lived in Montana on Snapchat and ultimately determined that Kennedy had met six minor boys who all lived in Montana. In Kennedy’s online communications with the boys from about July 2015 through June 2017, he received sexually explicit images of the boys’ genitals. The boys were all younger than 18 and lived in Kalispell, Big Fork and Great Falls. Law enforcement determined that Kennedy induced and persuaded one of the boys to produce a sexually explicit image of himself, which he sent to Kennedy.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson, District of Montana, is prosecuting this case.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 19,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 (3,191) child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 850 (859) victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
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-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member 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.