Man sentenced to prison on child porn, solicitation, exploitation charges

Kessler

GREENSBURG – A St. Paul man who allegedly admitted to exchanging sexually explicit text messages and photos with a 10-year-old girl was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday.

Tyler A. Kessler, 21, pleaded guilty to felony charges of child solicitation, child exploitation, and possession of child pornography last month in Decatur County Circuit Court, according to court records.

Kessler had been jailed since last July following a police investigation that began in Minnesota in January 2015. Investigators with the Lakeville (Minnesota) Police Department obtained electronic devices containing explicit images of a 10-year-old girl while responding to a complaint that a child had been the victim of criminal sexual conduct. Police were able to link the electronics to Kessler, according to court documents.

Indiana State Police collaborated with Minnesota authorities on the case and later executed a search warrant at Kessler’s home. Electronic devices belonging to the suspect were examined, and Kessler’s cell phone was found to contain images of child pornography, police said.

Kessler, during an interview with police, is alleged to have admitted to having conversations of a sexual nature with the victim via an instant messaging application. The suspect reportedly said he had also requested explicit photos of the girl and that child pornography had been received and/or distributed during conversations he had with people he met online.

Kessler’s guilty plea last month was taken under advisement by Decatur County Circuit Court Judge Tim Day and made formal during Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

In addition to the prison sentence, Kessler will serve one year of supervised probation and must meet sex offender management conditions, prosecutors said in a press release.

Decatur County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Doug Brown said the victim’s mother provided "powerful testimony."

Brown credited the victim’s mother’s diligence in observing her child’s online interactions as the impetus for prosecution in the case.

“This prosecution arose out of diligent parenting by the victim’s mother, and I thought her testimony at the sentencing hearing was incredibly raw and real,” Brown said via press release. “Social media and online engagement is a challenge for parents. But as [the victim’s mother] said at the hearing, parents must really monitor it.”

Sergeant Matthew Simmons of the Indiana State Police Cyber Crimes Unit headed the investigation.

Simmons can be a resource for parents hoping to learn more about how to keep their children safe online while staying informed about cyber criminals who target kids, prosecutors said.

“The Indiana State Police are actively engaged in educating parents on trends in cyber crime involving children,” said Decatur County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Harter. “For anyone interested in learning more, they can contact Sgt. Simmons at the Indiana State Police at 812-689-5000.”

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; brent.brown@greensburgdailynews.com

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