ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal court convicted a Bremerton, Washington, man yesterday on charges of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from around September to December 2020, Christopher William Kuehner, 38, was a prominent member of the website “Rapey.su,” which was dedicated to, among other things, child sexual exploitation. After becoming a member of the website, Kuehner repeatedly induced and enticed minor girls to produce child sexual abuse material for both him and the other members of the website.
Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. field office seized and shut down the website in December of 2020.
Co-defendants, Jacob Royce Mullins, 20, of South Webster, Ohio, Kyle William Leishear, 43, of Bayonet Point, Florida, and Matthew Martin, 25, of Lancaster, Wisconsin pleaded guilty to their roles in the enterprise.
In a related case last year, a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia also convicted Ashley Kolhoff, 22, of Port Clinton, Ohio, of production of child pornography for her participation on the Rapey.su website. Other users around the country have been prosecuted successfully in state and federal court for their conduct committed on the website.
Kuehner faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison when sentenced on April 25. Mullins and Martin also face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison when sentenced on April 25, as does Leishear when sentenced on May 9. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Derek W. Gordon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema announced the verdict.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Schlessinger and Trial Attorney Whitney Kramer of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section are prosecuting the case.
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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the 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.justice.gov/psc
In 2021, EDVA launched “UnMasked,” a community-based educational outreach and prevention program in Virginia dedicated to raising awareness and educating the community about the prevalence of online sexual exploitation involving children and young adults. UnMasked is a multi-disciplinary partnership of local, state, federal, and non-profit stakeholders. The core curriculum is provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) NetSmartz program. To report an incident involving online sexual exploitation, call 1-800-843-5678 or submit a report at report.cybertip.org. To request an UnMasked event at your school or organization, please contact EDVA’s Community Outreach Coordinator at USAVAE-UnMasked@usdoj.gov.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-120.