BECKLEY, W.Va. – A Kanawha County man pleaded guilty today to a child pornography charge.
According to the plea agreement and statements made in court, Steven Alfred Bennett, 56, of Montgomery, admitted that in October 2020, he contacted a woman via Craigslist who was allegedly located in Beckley, West Virginia. During those conversations, he arranged to meet the woman in Beckley and to pay $150 to engage in sexual activity with an 11-year-old girl that the woman had stated was her daughter. However, Bennett did not meet at the arranged time after he saw a local news story about a man getting arrested for responding to the same Craigslist ad. A subsequent search of Bennett’s home found computers that contained suspected child pornography, including an image of a prepubescent female he had received via a Skype conversation in 2016.
Bennett pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography and faces at least 10 years and up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 18, 2021.
Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.
United States District Judge Frank W. Volk presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is handling the prosecution.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:21-cr-00020.