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Kan. man pleads guilty to producing child porn

Published on -2/12/2013, 1:27 PM

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas man pleaded guilty Monday to taking pornographic photos of young children, including images of a naked 2-year-old boy in a roasting pan placed inside an oven.

Michael D. Arnett, 38, of Roeland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of producing child pornography. In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop one count of possessing child porn and one count of distributing it. Arnett also agreed not to ask for a sentence of less than 20 years, and prosecutors agreed not to seek more than 30 years. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 13.

Arnett admitted in court Monday that he took pictures of young children engaged in sexual activity from 2000 through the summer of 2008.

Federal agents investigating child pornography as part of Operation Holitna, an ongoing effort led by Homeland Security Investigations, located Arnett through a water bottle seen in a photo found on a Wisconsin man's computer. The bottle had the words "Midwest Aquatics" and a phone number beginning with a 913 area code. Agents traced it to a swim and scuba center in Overland Park, Kan.

That photo was among a series attributed to Arnett that included pornographic images of three children. Elementary school teachers in Johnson County helped identify the children, one of whom later told investigators the pictures were taken at Arnett's house.

Agents also found on Arnett's computers long, graphic online chats with other men talking about their desire to abduct, kill and eat children.

Four men who allegedly spoke online with Arnett about eating children were arrested in July, including a Florida children's puppeteer who admitted having those conversations but claimed it was all fantasy.

Prosecutors said they never found any evidence of cannibalism.

One of Arnett's friends, Robert Poe III, 38, of Kansas City, Kan., is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing Feb. 19, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Martin said Monday. Poe is charged with three counts of traveling to entice a minor to engage in sex.

Poe was arrested Aug. 10 in Laredo, Texas, and charged with molesting three boys after publicity about Arnett's arrest prompted one of the boys to come forward and report him to authorities.

According to a federal affidavit, a 24-year-old man told authorities in late July to say that he and his brother were molested by Poe when he was 10 to 12 years old. The young man said a year after he met Arnett, Poe started showing up in and molesting him. A third boy also claimed that Poe had forced him to perform a sex act at gunpoint when he was 7, according to the affidavit.

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