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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A jury convicted a West Plains man Dec. 6 of sexual exploitation of a 13-month-old child and distributing child pornography following a joint investigation between Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force and the West Plains, Mo., Police Department.

Kenneth Howard Worthy, 46, was found guilty of one count of sexual exploitation of a child by producing child pornography and one count of distributing child pornography.

Worthy’s criminal activities came to light during an investigation of another individual involved with child pornography. That individual informed investigators that Worthy had transmitted images of himself engaged in sexual acts with a child.

On March 4, 2021, law enforcement officers contacted Worthy at his residence. He admitted that using a child victim under the age of two, identified in court documents as John Doe, to produce child pornography, and told investigators that he sent pornographic images of the child victim to another person.

Officers seized Worthy’s cell phone, and investigators found 10 images of child pornography that depicted John Doe and Worthy.

Under federal statutes, Worthy is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for 45 minutes before returning guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, ending a trial that began Monday, Dec. 5.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cameron Beaver, James J. Kelleher and Ami Harshad Miller.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat child exploitation in your community on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.

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

Homeland Security Investigations

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

ICE breaking news West Plains man convicted of producing child exploitation material following HSI, joint law enforcement partner investigation Government Agency News