SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release) – An employee of the West Plains, Mo., R-7 School District was charged in federal court today with soliciting children to send him sexually explicit photos and videos through Snapchat and Instagram.
Cody Ashton Ary, 29, of West Plains, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri, with one count of producing child pornography. Ary is employed with the West Plains R-7 School District as a paraprofessional and commonly assists with special need students.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, Instagram initiated a CyberTip with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Dec. 3, 2019, after Ary allegedly uploaded a sexually explicit video of an 8-to-10-year-old boy to his account. Investigators found a total of 92 chat conversations between Ary and other Instagram users. According to the affidavit, Ary used the screen name “15anime_boy” and identified himself as a 15-year-old male to other users. He allegedly solicited sexually explicit videos and images from other users who identified to be minor males. Ary allegedly received dozens of images and videos of child pornography through his Instagram account. Ary asked the child victims to send him videos and images of them stripping, the affidavit says, in exchange for Ary providing Internet links to folders that contained child pornography.
Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Ary’s residence today, where he was arrested.
The charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the West Plains, Mo., Police Department, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations.
Project Safe Childhood
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 visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."