Kansas man pleads guilty to sexually exploiting Lynchburg teenager, admits to soliciting at least 200 minors

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A man from Kansas who used social media platforms to solicit minors including a teenager from Lynchburg has pleaded guilty to federal child exploitation charges.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) says, 22-year-old Andrew Kent, from Manhattan, Kansas pled guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of children.

According to court documents, Kent, who also goes by “Leo” or “JeffThePumpkin” met a 14-year-old girl from Lynchburg on the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter. Kent posed as a 20-year-old woman named, “Tris.” The DOJ says he used this persona to introduce his victims to a young man named “Leo.” However, Kent controlled both profiles and acted as “Tris” and “Leo.”

Kent told the teen he was from Roanoke and even showed her generic photos of the area to convince her they were geographically close. As they continued to communicate, the victim told Kent that she was 14. That’s when he told her he was 21 and was interested in meeting her someday to “take a kid’s virginity.”

According to the DOJ, the conversation progressed with Kent using violent language and threatening to hurt the teen. After weeks of talking, he asked her to send him nude pictures and videos, to which she obliged.

On June 16, 2023, Kent was arrested and interviewed by the FBI. During this time, he admitted to using X, Snapchat, and Discord to contact young girls and get them to send him nude pictures.

The DOJ says Kent estimated that he solicited and received images of child sexual abuse material from about 200 underaged girls.

Kent faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

“This case demonstrates the importance of knowing not only what your children are doing online, but also with whom they are communicating,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “There are dangerous people on the Internet who specifically target children.  We will use every tool we have to find those people and bring them to justice, but parents also perform a critical part in educating and monitoring their children’s online activity.”

“Pursuing justice for victims of child exploitation is one of our highest priorities.” Special Agent in Charges Stanley M. Meador of the FBI’s Richmond Division said today. “We will continue to work with our partners to investigate these horrific acts and bring those responsible to justice.”

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