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Child Exploitation

Missouri man sentenced to 15 years in prison for child exploitation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri man was sentenced in federal court Thursday for sexually exploiting a child to produce child pornography. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force.

Stephen Bee, 34, of Exeter, Mo., was sentenced Oct. 20 by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to 15 years in federal prison without parole.

Bee pleaded guilty June 21 to exploiting a child victim to produce child pornography.

His brother and co-defendant, Nicholas Bee, 23, also of Exeter, pleaded guilty on Aug. 23 to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet between Oct. 1, 2008, and Oct. 7, 2010.

Under federal statutes, Nicholas Bee is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher, Western District of Missouri, is prosecuting the case.

This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or via its online tip form. 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.