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Child Exploitation
06/18/2018

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Missouri man pleads guilty to producing child pornography by sexually exploiting a child

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A southwestern Missouri man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to producing child pornography by sexually exploiting his child victim.

This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force.

Anthony Cotter, 30, of Springfield, Missouri, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to sexually exploiting children, and producing and possessing child pornography.

By pleading guilty, Cotter admitted that he received and distributed child pornography over the internet. Cotter also admitted that he had a substantial amount of child pornography on his computer and cellphone.

Cotter told investigators he had been sexually abusing a minor female, identified in court documents as Jane Doe #1, and taking sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe #1. Depictions of Cotter sexually abusing the child victim were recovered from his digital storage devices.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Cotter will be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher, Western District of Missouri.

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 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 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.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/19/2018