Dark Web Child Porn Leads to 12 Year Sentence for Randolph County Man

Justice, Albert V. Bryan District Courthouse, Tim Evanson, dark web child porn
Justice outside the Albert V. Bryan District Courthouse in Alexandria, VA. (Photo: Tim Evanson – Flickr – CC license)

Sparta, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A Randolph County man is heading to federal prison today after years of downloading and sharing child pornography on the dark web. Kory R. Schulein, 37, of Sparta, Illinois, was sentenced this afternoon to 151 months in prison for knowingly receiving child sexual abuse material over the internet. Schulein pled guilty to the charge in April.

According to court documents, Schulein first came to the attention to law enforcement in 2018 during an FBI investigation of child pornography on the dark web. Agents were able to track his internet protocol address and executed a federal search warrant at his home. Schulein served as a moderator of a dark website dedicated to child exploitation and had been an active participant on other sites. Prosecutors told the court that on one of the sites, Schulein had posted 13,733 messages, many of which included links to child exploitation images and videos. Schulein also collected and stored over 9,000 images and videos of child sexual abuse material on an encrypted hard drive.

In handing down the sentence, which fell at the low end of the advisory sentencing guidelines, United States District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn observed that the guidelines called for a lengthy sentence “because of the colossal and immensely harmful impact” child pornography has on children. Schulein was unemployed and had for years actively participated in online forums where he interacted with people who were producing child pornography. Judge McGlynn noted that some of the images and videos collected by Schulein depicted children in bondage and adults raping children, including 5- year-old girls and toddlers. “You must have felt no mercy or empathy for these children you were watching being humiliated and tortured,” McGlynn told the defendant.

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors also submitted evidence that Schulein had engaged in an online “romantic relationship” with an 11-year-old girl in the United Kingdom. Judge McGlynn called Schulein’s involvement with the girl “classic grooming behavior.”

Some victims of the child pornography that Schulein received and shared with others submitted statements to the court. In their statements, they describe how impossible it is for them to live any semblance of a normal life while images of their sexual abuse are traded online. “Every time someone views this trash,” one survivor wrote, “he is once again making me re-live the most horrific part of my childhood. I can never truly heal….” The mother of another victim wrote: “Thousands upon thousands of people, all over the world have access to images of our little girl during her darkest days…. A person can download her image, create their own child pornography movie, share it with other monsters, or keep it for themselves to continually exploit our daughter in their own private bedroom.” Knowing that her abuse is memorialized on the internet for people like the defendant to view and share forever “will shatter her soul,” the victim’s mother wrote.

As part of his sentence, Schulein was ordered to serve 10 years on supervised release and pay a $5,000 special assessment. He previously paid $12,000 in restitution to several of the victims.

The case was investigated by FBI-Springfield, with valuable assistance provided by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Trial Attorneys Jessica Urban and Alicia A. Bove of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan D. Stump of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Illinois prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

This is a release from the United States Department of Justice.