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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. Missouri Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Purchasing Explicit Images, Videos from Child

Missouri Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Purchasing Explicit Images, Videos from Child Following HSI Kansas City, Partner Investigation

Release Date: July 2, 2024

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Springfield man was sentenced in federal court for sexually exploiting a child following a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) probe.

Jason T. Bernard, 54, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark to 30 years and five months in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced him to a lifetime of supervised release following incarceration and ordered him to pay $171,000 in restitution.

On Aug. 29, 2023, Bernard pleaded guilty to one count of the exploitation of a child, one count of the coercion and enticement of a child, and one count of receiving child pornography.

The investigation began when HSI received nine CyberTips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Apr. 7, 2022. The tips involved 145 images of child sexual abuse featuring toddlers and other young victims that Bernard uploaded for storage to the Verizon Cloud.

“The online sexual exploitation of children is at an extremely alarming level. HSI will continue to pursue these cases to the fullest extent of the law,” said acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Kansas City Mark Zito. “This case is a great example of why HSI and our partners are working so hard to educate the parents, caregivers and trusted adults about these type of online dangers through our Know2Protect campaign and iGuardian outreach program.”

After investigators identified Bernard as the account holder, they received information from law enforcement in North Carolina that Bernard also was involved in one of their investigations. For two years, Bernard had been sending funds through Cash App to a child victim identified in court documents as “Jane Doe 1,” starting when she was 12 or 13 years old. In exchange, the child victim sent explicit images and videos of herself to Bernard.

Bernard admitted that he sent sex toys and alcohol to the child, and those items were later used to produce images that he purchased from her. Bernard possessed more than 700 images and videos of the child victim.

Bernard also admitted to having multiple conversations with the child about her traveling to Missouri to meet him for sex, offered her money for this potential meeting, and had conversations with her about purchasing a plane ticket or bus ticket to facilitate her travel to Missouri.

Investigators also discovered more than 1,500 additional images and videos of child sexual abuse on Bernard’s cellphone.

This case was investigated by HSI Kansas City, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Beaufort County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Wan.

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 the U.S. attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

Together with partners in law enforcement, state and local government, international counterparts, and nongovernmental organizations, the HSI workforce does heroic work to prevent these crimes, support those who are impacted by them, and hold perpetrators accountable.

HSI offers multiple options for virtual and in-person trainings to educate the public about the growing threats children and teens face online.

Learn more about HSI Kansas City’s mission to eradicate online child exploitation on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @HSIKansasCity.

Last Updated: 07/03/2024
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