SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield, Mo., man who was the subject of an undercover investigation in the United Kingdom has been sentenced in federal court on child sexual exploitation charges.
Kody Ryan Kelso, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 19 years and seven months in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Kelso to spend 15 years on supervised release following incarceration.
On July 6, 2022, Kelso pleaded guilty to one count of the sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography and to one count of using the internet and a cell phone to coerce and entice a child under the age of 14 to engage in illicit sexual activity.
Both of the offenses to which Kelso pleaded guilty are related to an undercover law enforcement operation in the United Kingdom. Kelso used an online service named My LOL, a teen dating site with chat features, to contact a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, but in reality was an undercover law enforcement officer. Kelso asked her to have sexual intercourse with him and repeatedly requested sexually explicit images during online chats from Jan. 7 to Feb. 2, 2021. Kelso also provided his email address and asked her to use Google hangouts to send sexually explicit photos outside the MYLOL platform.
In addition to the information from Europol, investigators received two Cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding Kelso’s online activity and posting a child pornography video online.
On June 16, 2021, Springfield police officers executed a search warrant at Kelso’s apartment and he was arrested. Officers seized 19 electronic devices. Investigators found 26 images and 39 video files of child pornography on Kelso’s computers. According to court documents, Kelso had multiple conversations with other users who had clearly identified themselves as minors and sought to have them produce sexually explicit images and entice them into engaging in sexual conduct. The records from MyLOL reveal that Kelso had contacted 560 additional MyLOL users, all of which were listed as being between the age of 13 and 17 years old. He started each conversation by asking if the child had an “age limit” and would introduce sexual topics.
Kelso’s behavior was not limited to MyLOL. On his devices, law enforcement discovered approximately 7,900 different chat threads with different users, over multiple social media applications, including Discord, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Instagram, Kik, Skype, and Text Now. Kelso sometimes sent child pornography, or pornographic images of himself, to these children and requested nude images.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Wan. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations.
Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ 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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”