SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A previously convicted sex offender was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 120 years in prison for sexually abusing five children in the Philippines.
This sentence resulted from an extensive international investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Kenneth Gaylord Stokes, 71, a U.S. citizen who resided near the city of Cebu in the Philippines, was sentenced to 120 years in federal prison without parole.
Stokes pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to five counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. He was arrested at his Philippines residence Dec. 3, 2012, and deported to the United States. He has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest. Stokes has a prior conviction for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old child in the state of Washington.
“This sexual predator abused an untold number of young children,” Dickinson said. “Today’s tough sentence ensures the public – and more importantly, his victims – that he will never be released from prison. A lengthy sentence also sends an unmistakable message about the consequences for committing such a monstrous crime against the most vulnerable members of society.
“He thought he could move to another country to escape the legal repercussions of his actions,” Dickinson added, “but he was not beyond the reach of justice.”
In July 2012, an undercover HSI special agent in Missouri located Stokes’ Craigslist ad that offered photography services in the Philippines. Stokes and the special agent communicated via email for several months, during which time Stokes emailed the agent photos of girls, some of whom were in sexually explicit poses.
According to court documents, Stokes told the undercover agent during the exchange of emails that he had “no limits” on taking videos or photographs, and that he had married a Filipino woman “to get to her daughter” and later made her “disappear.” Stokes indicated in one email that the undercover agent could “have any preteen” he wanted in the Philippines.
The undercover agent expressed his interest in meeting Stokes, who encouraged the agent to visit. Stokes indicated that he would help facilitate sexual liaisons with both his own wife and Filipino children.
According to court documents, the HSI Deputy Attaché in the Philippines indicated that Stokes had been confronted by local authorities in 2012 after he reportedly molested a girl and took explicit photographs of her. It is unknown what action was taken by those authorities.
On Dec. 3, 2012, the undercover agent met Stokes at his residence in the Philippines. Stokes explained that he planned to take the agent to two different locations where he would be able to find children to sexually victimize, according to court documents. Stokes also expressed his desire for the agent to impregnate his wife in hopes that he would later be able to use the child for sexual purposes. Stokes explained that his wife would not consent to having sex with the undercover agent and encouraged him to rape her.
Stokes also bragged that he had taken thousands of images depicting child pornography, according to court documents, and indicated that people in other countries paid him to produce made-to-order child pornography. Stokes later told investigators that he had produced child pornography for multiple individuals and sold collections of child pornography for as much as $1,250. One such collection has been discovered in other investigations.
Stokes showed the undercover agent multiple images of child pornography on his laptop computer. The undercover agent left the house and returned with local law enforcement officers to arrest Stokes.
Investigators seized Stokes’ computers and conducted a forensic examination. They were able to determine the identities of five girls (identified as Jane Doe #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5). These victims later told law enforcement officers that Stokes paid them to pose for the sexually explicit photos. Investigators found thousands of pictures and video recordings depicting child pornography on Stokes’ computers, as well as a script for a movie depicting the sexual and physical abuse of a child.
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 12,000 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 2014, more than 2,300 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.
HSI is a founding member and current chair 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.