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Kan. child porn suspect scheduled to change plea

Published on -2/11/2013, 7:01 AM

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A suburban Kansas City man accused of possessing child pornography and chatting online with other child porn suspects about cooking and eating children is scheduled for a change of plea hearing in federal court Monday.

Michael Arnett, 38, of Roeland Park, Kan., was arrested last May after federal agents discovered that a water bottle in a pornographic photograph on the computer of a Wisconsin man had the name of a swim and scuba center in Overland Park, Kan.

Among a series of photos of child porn allegedly produced by Arnett were images of three small children, including one who was sitting naked in a roasting pan that had been placed in an oven. Teachers at a local elementary school identified the children in the pictures.

One of the boys told Homeland Security Investigations agents the photos were taken at Arnett's home. Investigators seized several computers, memory cards, cameras and other equipment from the home and determined many of the photos had been shot at the residence.

In addition to child porn, agents found long, graphic online chats with other men online talking about his desire to abduct, kill and eat children. In July, agents arrested four other men -- including a children's puppeteer from Largo, Fla. -- who said they had online discussions with Arnett about eating children.

The puppeteer, Ronald Brown, acknowledged his online conversations but said it was all fantasy and that he would never hurt anyone.

Prosecutors said they found no evidence of cannibalism.

Arnett pleaded not guilty to two charges of possessing child porn and one count of distributing it. He is scheduled to change that plea Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

A friend of Arnett's, Robert Poe III, 38, of Kansas City, Kan., was scheduled to have a status hearing Monday morning in the same courtroom on three counts of traveling to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. Electronic court documents do not suggest Poe will change his not guilty pleas.

Poe was charged in September after another victim told investigators Poe and Arnett had molested him and his brother more than a decade ago.

After Poe's arrest, HSI special agent Gary Hartwig said publicity about Arnett's arrest prompted the accusers to go to police.

The arrests of Arnett and Poe were part of a child porn investigation that started in Massachusetts and led to dozens of arrests in seven countries.

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