Marion man pleads guilty to distributing child pornography on messaging app

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ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — A Marion, Virginia man has pled guilty to distributing child pornography through the online messaging platform KIK.

Travis Shane Smith, 38, pleaded guilty to distributing images that depicted prepubescent girls engaging in sexually explicit conduct, a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice said.

An undercover officer from Wisconsin worked to identify Smith between May 4, 2020 and June 3, 2020 as being a member of a known child pornography chat room.

Smith used the username “tman_1983” to distribute child sex materials within the chatroom.

“Distributing videos depicting the sexual abuse of children perpetuates their trauma and abuse, and simply will not be tolerated,” Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar said. “It remains a top priority of our office to investigate and prosecute those who seek to victimize children.  We appreciate the good work of our federal, state and local partners, who brought Smith to justice.”

Smith pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly distributing one or more visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

His sentencing will be on Dec. 15, and Smith faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

A federal district court judge will determine his sentence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia State Police, Smyth County Sheriff’s Office and Marion Police Department investigated the case.

“The FBI and our investigative partners are dedicated to protecting these victims, who become pawns in this world of online sexual exploitation and will work together to identify and prosecute these criminals,” said Stanley M. Meador, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division. “There are resources to help these victims, and we encourage anyone who has been victimized or is aware of an ongoing incident to report it to law enforcement immediately.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lena Busscher will prosecute the case.

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