July 20, 2024 9:49 pm

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Bremerton man among four sentenced to 20 years for role in child exploitation enterprise

May 11, 2023—Four men were sentenced up to 20 years for their participation in a website dedicated to child sexual exploitation the Department of Justice released today.

Kyle William Leishear, 43, of Bayonet Point, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison. On April 25, Leishear’s three co-defendants were sentenced for their roles in a child exploitation enterprise: Christopher William Kuehner, 38, of Bremerton, Washington, was sentenced to 20 years in prison; Jacob Royce Mullins, 20, of South Webster, Ohio, was sentenced to seven years in prison; and Matthew Martin, 25, of Lancaster, Wisconsin, was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. 

“We cannot and will not tolerate websites like Rapey.su that invite and encourage members to congregate, discuss, and engage in the sexual exploitation of children and young women, to memorialize this exploitation, and to distribute illegal sexually explicit images of the victims,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to rooting out these websites and bringing to justice those who join them for the purpose of perpetuating the victimization of some of the most vulnerable members of society.” 

According to court documents, Leishear, Kuehner, Mullins, and Martin were prominent members of the “Rapey.su” website, which was dedicated to, among other things, child sexual exploitation. After becoming a member of the website, Leishear enticed multiple minor victims, including one as young 12-years-old, to produce and share sexually explicit images. Kuehner also repeatedly induced minor victims to produce and post sexually explicit images and videos to the site. The website was seized and shut down by Homeland Security in December 2020.

Rapey was a website that contained forums, postings, galleries, and conversations about the sexual exploitation of minors and rape, in addition to other topics. The website had approximately 8,000 members, both adults and minors, according to court documents.

On September 27,2020, Kuehner registered as a member of Rapey and created a profile with the username “nechris.” Nechris’s profile initially identified himself as a Caucasian/Asian male with brown eyes and black hair, five feet and eight inches tall, and located in Washington state. His profile also included several answers to preset ideological questions for Rapey user profiles. According to the court records, in response to the question “[w]hat do you think about rapecels and pedocels,” “nechris” responded, “Some people are closed minded.” To the question “[i]f a man wants to rape his 3-year-old daughter up every hole while she’s crying and screaming, do you have a problem with that?”, “nechris” answered “No. Well, I do if it’s on a plane.”

The evidence introduced at trial consisted of numerous transcripts of Kuehner’s public and private online conversations with minors, online discussion posts and sexually explicit images and videos, live testimony of three minor victims, and a recorded interview of Kuehner, among other documentary and testimonial evidence. 

Leishear attempted to distribute child sexual abuse material on the website. Mullins and Martin both repeatedly distributed child sexual abuse material images on the website, and Mullins enticed another website user to produce and share sexually explicit images of a minor victim. Mullins also produced videos of himself engaging in sex with a minor he had met on the website. 

“I am grateful for the hard work of our agents and prosecutors to seek justice in this horrific case. These defendants caused immeasurable trauma on their victims, amplified by the group’s online sharing of their abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case shows that internet anonymity will not protect offenders from facing full accountability for their illegal online conduct.”

“The actions of the four individuals in this case were nothing short of reprehensible,” said Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “They shamefully targeted the most vulnerable members of our community for their own perverse desires. HSI Washington, D.C. remains committed to protecting children from abuse and holding accountable those individuals who would victimize minors. HSI remains vigilant in watching for indicators of child exploitation throughout our communities.”

HSI investigated the case and Trial Attorney Whitney Kramer of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Schlessinger for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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