KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A previously convicted U.S. sex offender, formerly from the state of Washington and recently living in the Republic of the Philippines, was indicted Wednesday in federal court for "sex tourism," and producing and distributing child pornography with five juvenile victims.
This indictment resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Kenneth Gaylord Stokes, 68, who had been residing on Cebu Island in the Philippines, was charged in a seven-count superseding indictment returned June 12 by a federal grand jury.
This indictment replaces a previous federal indictment returned under seal Nov. 7 and contains five additional counts of traveling overseas to engage in illicit sexual conduct with children, also known as sex tourism. The original indictment was unsealed March 4 when Stokes made his initial appearance in Missouri following his Dec. 3 arrest in Guam. He is being held in custody without bond. Stokes also has a prior conviction for the statutory rape of a 7-year-old child in the state of Washington.
According to court documents, an HSI special agent in Springfield, Mo., discovered an ad on the local Craigslist classified ad website offering photography services in the Philippines in July 2012. Given the nature of the ad, the special agent suspected the person posting the ad may be engaged in illegal activities involving child pornography. The agent exchanged emails with and subsequently identified Stokes. Stokes allegedly asserted that he had married a Filipino woman to get to her daughter, and that he had "no limits" in terms of his photography services.
It is also alleged that Stokes emailed the HSI special agent images of child pornography on July 10 and July 26, 2012.
The HSI special agent traveled to the Philippines to meet Stokes at his Cebu Island residence. The special agent positively identified Stokes, and local authorities placed him under arrest for extradition to the United States.
A forensic examination of Stokes' computer is ongoing. In a motion filed with the court, the government asserts that the preliminary examination suggests that Stokes used child victims to produce a large quantity of movies and images of child pornography. This indictment maintains the original charges against Stokes. Stokes was originally charged with two counts of distributing child pornography to Greene County, Mo., via the Internet on two separate occasions in July 2012.
Stokes is also now charged with five additional counts of traveling overseas to produce child pornography. Between Sept. 26, 2009 and Dec. 3, Stokes allegedly used five separate child victims to produce child pornography.
Under federal statutes, Stokes faces 15 to 40 years in prison if convicted on the two counts of distributing child pornography, and up to 60 years on each of the five counts of traveling overseas to produce child pornography. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
The charges in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
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, 1-800-843-5678.
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.