Press Release from the Office of Beth Phillips
KANSAS CITY, Mo. B Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man was found guilty, after entering a plea of no contest in federal court today, to drugging and molesting 13 child victims, with some of the sexual abuse videotaped, over a four-year period.
James Phillip APhil@ Edwards, 61, of Kansas City, pleaded no contest to all 21 counts contained in an April 7, 2010, federal indictment and U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple entered a judgment of guilty on all counts.
The government cited evidence in court today that Edwards created multiple videos of his serial molestation of 13 victims, whose ages at the time of their molestations ranged from 6 years to 13 years old. All of the sexual abuse occurred at Edwards’ residence, with all but one of the videos recorded in his basement, between July 21, 2001, and June 23, 2005.
Edwards admitted to law enforcement agents that he drugged the victims with sleeping pills, including Ambien and its generic, which were hidden in ice cream and soft drinks that he served to the children. The victims in the videos appear drugged and are obviously unconscious, even though their bodies are being subjected to a variety of molestations. Often they are in bed with other children, who also remained unconscious as Edwards molested one or more of them in the same bed.
In forensic interviews, a few of the victims recalled having ice cream-eating contests at Edwards’ house. However, none of the victims knew they were being drugged.
Evidence cited by the government includes a videotaped confession that Edwards made to law enforcement agents, as well as pictures, videos and documents that Edwards created on his computer. Those documents included “How to Molest Young Girls,” which provides specific information about dosage amounts and other instructions for drugging and molesting children. Another document is entitled, “Pedo Handbook” and includes a section entitled “Drugging Children and Preteens.”
Edwards pleaded no contest to 12 counts of producing child pornography, one count of attempting to produce child pornography, and five counts of distributing a controlled substance to the victims without their knowledge in order to facilitate a crime of violence.
The government’s evidence is that Edwards was caught in two separate undercover sting operations in 2009 by two different law enforcement agencies that were investigating the use of file-sharing programs to trade child pornography. Edwards was downloading child pornography from the Internet, the government alleges, using a peer-to-peer file-sharing program that allowed files on his computer to be downloaded by other users. As a result of these undercover operations, Edwards was identified and arrested. The subsequent investigation uncovered the sexual abuse of the children who had been drugged and molested.
In May 2009, an FBI Task Force officer in Oklahoma City, Okla., identified the IP address of Edwards’ computer, which was making multiple files with titles alluding to child pornography available for sharing over the Internet. The officer downloaded several files of child pornography, which depicted a known child victim. This conduct is the basis for the charge of advertising child pornography.
In June 2009, a detective with the Independence, Mo., Police Department also captured Edwards’ computer IP address, during a separate investigation, making multiple images of child pornography available to others to download. This conduct is the basis for the charge of attempted distribution of child pornography.
A federal search warrant was obtained and Edwards’ computer media was seized in October 2009. A forensic examination of an external hard drive revealed many additional images of child pornography. This is the basis for the charge of possessing child pornography.
By pleading no contest today, Edwards must forfeit to the government the computer equipment, video equipment and storage media that were used to commit the offenses.
Under federal statutes, Edwards is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole for each of 11 (of the 12) counts of producing child pornography, as well as the count of attempting to produce child pornography and the count of advertising child pornography over the Internet, with a potential maximum sentence that would be the equivalent of spending the rest of his life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine and an order of restitution for his victims. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.
Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys= Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.