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Texas man sentenced to prison for distributing thousands of images of child pornography

AUGUSTA, GA:  A Texas man who distributed child pornography through an Internet messaging service has been sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison.

James Lee Kinnison, 23, of Cypress, Texas, was sentenced to 121 months in prison after pleading guilty to Distribution of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Kinnison to pay restitution of $15,000, to serve 15 years of supervised release, and to register as a sex offender after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“James Kinnison appeared to be a stellar student with a bright future – but his exploitation of countless child victims is horrific,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold accountable anyone who harms our most vulnerable citizens.”

As described in court documents and testimony, agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in October 2018 were conducting an investigation of a suspected child pornography distributer when they discovered Kinnison was sharing videos and images of child pornography to a private online messaging forum. At the time, Kinnison was a student and tutor at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He later was interviewed and arrested by agents with Homeland Security Investigations after he admitted sharing images of child pornography to the online forum.

For purposes of sentencing, more than 52,000 images of child pornography were attributed to Kinnison.

“The GBI will continue to work tirelessly to protect innocent child victims of online exploitation,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds. “We are grateful for the relationships we maintain with our federal partner agencies to bring these offenders to justice.”

“These perpetrators think they can share their filth and hide from justice by using the anonymity of the Internet, but they are wrong,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Sentences like this send a loud message to Kinnison and others like him that this behavior will not be tolerated, and they will be held accountable.”

Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or https://report.cybertip.org/.

The case was investigated by the GBI and Homeland Security Investigations, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.