A former U.S. Air Force law enforcement officer from Montana was sentenced to federal prison on Friday for leveraging his position to have young boys send him nude photos and videos.
Raymond Larry Edward Kennedy, 24, of Kalispell, was sentenced on Friday to 15 years in federal prison to be followed by 10 years of supervision. Without parole in the federal system, he will likely serve the entire sentence in prison.
Kennedy was indicted in U.S. District Court in Montana about a year ago, around the same time a case in Missouri involving him was wrapping up. There, he was convicted of initiating a sexual exchange with a 13-year-old boy he met online and threatening the boy with violence if he exposed their communication, according to KJLU radio.
At that time and during the time of the offenses filed in Montana's federal court, Kennedy was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Colorado as a law enforcement officer. Prosecutors allege he repeatedly met boys online, and coerced and manipulated them into sending nude images of themselves. Then, through his position as a military police officer, he threatened and intimidated the boys into continuing to send him images, prosecutors allege. One child became suicidal due to the torment, according to prosecutors.
The six boys Kennedy made contact with online, all from Montana in this case, wanted military careers, U.S. Assistant District Attorney Cyndee Peterson told the judge on Friday. Charging documents indicate the exploitation of these boys took place for about two years, beginning in June 2015. None of the victims was in court to testify at the sentencing hearing.
"Those boys were petrified," Peterson said.
Kennedy, speaking to the judge, called his own actions "outrageous" and said he, himself, was petrified at his conduct. He acknowledged to the judge his childhood, riddled with physical and sexual abuse, had been a factor in his actions, but said he took responsibility for his crimes.
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He asked Chief District Judge Dana Christensen to send him to a prison facility where he could both undergo sexual offender treatment, and train in vocational skills for employment after his release.
"I know it's my duty to know right from wrong," Kennedy said. "My childhood wasn't easy, but that's no excuse. As I stand here, I'm an abuser. I'm not better than" his own abuser.
Christensen noted in reading his judgment that Air Force officials contacted law enforcement after unearthing some troubling online messaging between Kennedy and his victims. The Air Force discharged Kennedy "due to 'minor infractions,' some of which I need to note are sexual in nature," the judge said.
Christensen also took into account the abuses suffered by Kennedy and those described by his mother, who spoke in a statement to the court.
Kennedy pleaded guilty in March to sexual exploitation of a child and receipt of child pornography, after signing a plea agreement that dropped five additional exploitation charges. Christensen sentenced Kennedy to 15 years on the exploitation charge, to run concurrently with a five-year sentence on the child pornography charge.
Following his release, Kennedy will be on federal probation for 10 years.
"This is a long sentence," Christensen said, "long enough, in my view."