Branson EMT, Joplin Couple Among Those Indicted for Child Sexual Exploitation
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Branson, Mo., EMT and a Joplin, Mo., couple are among five persons indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday in four separate and unrelated cases related to the sexual exploitation of children.
“Protecting the most vulnerable members of our society is a top priority of the Department of Justice,” Dickinson said. “We are committed to protecting our children from sexual predators and bringing their abusers to justice. Exploiting and abusing a child to produce pornography—as charged in each of these indictments—carries a tough mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole.”
USA v. Dickerson
Nicholas James Dickerson, 30, of Branson, Mo., was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Dickerson is employed by the Western Taney County Fire Protection District as an EMT and volunteer firefighter. Dickerson was residing in living quarters at a Branson fire station at the time of the alleged offense.
The federal indictment alleges that Dickerson used a minor to produce child pornography on Feb. 7, 2015. The indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Dickerson on Feb. 19, 2015.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, Dickerson sold his iPhone to a Nixa, Mo., business on Feb. 9, 2015. An employee of the business noticed Dickerson deleting images or files from the phone while standing at the counter, the affidavit says, and after the transaction was complete the employee noticed that the “deleted pictures folder” was still present on the screen. The employee saw an image that appeared to be child pornography and alerted the store owner, who contacted law enforcement.
Investigators identified the nine-year-old victim in the image. Dickerson told investigators that he took the photo while sexually abusing the child victim in his living quarters at the fire station, the affidavit says, and that he sexually abused the victim on multiple occasions. Dickerson also told investigators he had shown pornography to the child victim.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the FBI.
USA v. Britten
Ernest Britten, 36, of Joplin, Mo., and his ex-wife, Kendra Britten, 33, of Miami, Okla., formerly of Joplin, were charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo.
The federal indictment alleges that Ernest and Kendra Britten used a minor to produce child pornography from June 23, 2005, to July 2, 2012. The indictment also charges Ernest and Kendra Britten with receiving child pornography over the Internet from Dec. 27, 2010, to Nov. 10, 2011.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
USA v. Peterson
Michael Douglas Peterson, 32, of Morristown, Tenn., formerly of Barry County, Mo., was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Peterson on Jan. 23, 2015.
The federal indictment alleges that Peterson used a minor victim to produce child pornography from March 1, 2014, to Jan. 21, 2015. Peterson is also charged with using his cell phone during that time to entice the minor, who was younger than 17, to engage in illicit sexual behavior.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, Peterson was exchanging nude photos via cell phone and engaging in sexual activity with the 15-year-old victim in Cassville, Mo. A state arrest warrant was issued for Peterson, but he could not be located.
The victim’s mother took her to live in Tennessee. Federal agents later located Peterson in Morristown, Tenn., where he was living with the child victim and her mother. Peterson was arrested and remains in federal custody.
Peterson told federal agents the child victim’s mother allowed him to move into their home and was aware that he and the child victim engaged in sexual intercourse. The child victim, the affidavit says, is pregnant with Peterson’s child. She was taken into protective custody and placed in foster care.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.
USA v. Hall
Michael Roger Hall, 19, of Kenton, Ohio, was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Hall on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.
The federal indictment alleges that Hall used a minor to produce child pornography from Dec. 7 to 9, 2014. The indictment also alleges that Hall communicated via the Internet to entice a minor victim to engage in illicit sexual behavior.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, Hall was exchanging nude images over the Internet with a nine-year-old victim in Ava, Mo. Hall and the child victim, who began communicating through an application on her Kindle Fire, allegedly discussed meeting for sexual contact.
A law enforcement officer, portraying the identity of the child victim, began communicating with Hall. Hall was arrested on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015, and remains in federal custody.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Ava, Mo., Police Department, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force and the FBI.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained 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.
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.”