US Attorney's Office seeking hearing on pretrial detention over flight risk concerns

A former Lake area police officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on child pornography charges.

According to a press release from Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, former Camden County sheriff’s deputy Leonard Jerome Wilson, 39, formerly of Camdenton was charged in a two-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City on December 21, 2017. That indictment was unsealed and made public Monday, February 5 upon Wilson’s arrest and initial court appearance in South Carolina February 3. Wilson remains in federal custody and will be transported to the Western District of Missouri to face charges.

Wilson was employed as a Camden County sheriff’s deputy at the time of the alleged offenses. He has also worked for other law enforcement agencies in the region as well.

The federal indictment alleges that Wilson received child pornography between April 26, 2015, and July 17, 2017. Wilson is also charged with possessing child pornography on July 17, 2017.

As charged in Count 1, the defendant faces a term of imprisonment of five to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The US Attorney’s Office has requested that the Court hold a hearing to determine pretrial detention, arguing in a motion in the Western District that “the particular facts of this investigation show that the defendant is a danger to the community, that he is not amenable to supervision, and is a flight risk.”

The motion cited images found through forensic analysis of Wilson’s cell phone during a larger investigation into alleged hands-on sexual abuse of two juvenile females in Camden County. The court document cited Wilson’s local charges of fourth degree child molestation, furnishing pornography or attempting to furnish pornography to a minor, and stalking in one case and two counts of second degree statutory sodomy and fourth degree child molestation in a second, separate case. The victims in both cases reported that the conduct occurred while the defendant was on duty as a deputy sheriff in his patrol car while he was in uniform.

According to the federal court document, the defendant is also a flight risk as he no longer resides in the State of Missouri and has very few ties to the area.

Garrison cautioned that the charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

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 United States 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visitwww.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."