SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A previously convicted sex offender from southwestern Missouri pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to receiving child pornography in the form of online sex shows from the Philippines.
This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force.
Paul L. Sipeer, 65, of Duenweg, Missouri, pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography via the Internet. Sipeer has been held in federal custody without bond since his Jan. 28 arrest.
Sipeer is a registered sex offender with a 1992 conviction for sexual abuse in the first degree involving the physical harm of a 7-year-old child. According to court documents, Sipeer admitted that he sexually molested at least three other children besides the victim of the crime resulting in his conviction. Sipeer also admitted that he began accessing child pornography within one year of his release from prison in 1994.
By pleading guilty, Sipeer admitted that he received child pornography between July 1, 2012 and Jan. 26, 2016.
According to court documents, HSI special agents learned that Sipeer was transferring money online to individuals in the Philippines between $10 and $20 several times per month during the summer of 2015. Money transfers, conducted through Western Union and MoneyGram, are frequently used to send funds to pay for coerced sexual performances by children in the Philippines. In prior investigations conducted by HSI, small amounts of money, typically between $5 and $100, are often sent to individuals in the Philippines. Often the senders send additional payments for continued and/or repeat performances.
Upon further investigation, HIS special agents learned that Sipeer had been making money transfers to various individuals in the Philippines since January 2013 in amounts ranging up to $480.
Law enforcement officers contacted Sipeer at his residence on Jan. 26, 2016. Sipeer told the officers he sent money to the Philippines to pay for “sex shows.” Sipeer said he has sent about $1,200 to the Philippines in total. Sipeer also confessed that he had been actively downloading images depicting child pornography from the Internet. Several images of child pornography depicting children younger than 10 years old were located on Sipeer’s computer.
Under federal statutes, Sipeer is subject to a mandatory sentence of 15 to 40 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation.
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 14,000 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 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 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.