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July 26, 2023Kansas City, MO, United StatesChild Exploitation

Missouri man pleads guilty to transporting child sexual abuse material

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Independence man pleaded guilty in federal court on July 17 to uploading videos of child sexual abuse to his online storage accounts following a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Kansas City probe.

Joshua M. Rodgers, 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to one count of transporting child pornography.

Rodgers uploaded hundreds of images and videos of child sexual abuse to his online Google account and Dropbox from Dec. 4, 2017, to Feb. 27, 2019. In particular, on Nov. 23, 2018, he uploaded two videos depicting child sexual abuse material to Dropbox through the internet.

During the investigation, the Western Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force received four CyberTip reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding 548 videos of child sexual abuse uploaded to Rodgers’ Google accounts. However, investigators identified 728 such images and 771 such videos. Of those, roughly 101 files involved infants or toddlers. An additional 1,022 images and 124 videos depicted “age difficult” persons and child erotica.

On Oct. 22, 2019, federal agents executed a search warrant at Rodgers’ residence. They seized his computer, which contained 658 videos and 139 images of suspected child sexual abuse, including prepubescent victims, sadomasochistic behaviors and bestiality.

Rodgers also admitted to previously communicating with a girl from Ohio, beginning when she was 15 years old, and admitted to sharing images and videos with her. Rodgers repeatedly asked her to send him sexual images and videos of herself. He even bought and sent her a sex toy so she would use it in videos for him. Rodgers also sent her videos of child sexual abuse.

Under federal statutes, Rodgers is subject to a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of five years without parole and up to 20 years without parole. The court will determine his sentencing based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth W. Borgnino. It was investigated by HSI and the Western Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and 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.

Learn more about our mission to combat child exploitation on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.