CARTHAGE, Mo. — A Carthage man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to sexually exploiting a child from Michigan whom he met online.

Twenty-six-year-old Charles Ward Kuentzel faces at least 15 years in prison for his guilty verdict and by pleading guilty, admitted to using a child victim to produce child pornography from September 1st, 2020 to April 21st, 2021.

The mother of the victim called Michigan authorities after learning her daughter – identified in documents as Jane Doe – was involved in lewd conversations with an older man online.

Charles Ward Kuentzel – 2017 booking photo. Courtesy: Carthage Police Department

Doe said that she met Kuentzel through a public Discord game server, through which they exchanged messages. Court documents indicate both Kuentzel and the juvenile shared explicit images of themselves and engaged in video chats.

When a search warrant was executed at Kuentzel’s home on August 26th, 2021, a cell phone and microSD card containing “numerous images of the child victim, including child pornography” were found. Forensic examination revealed several sexually explicit images of another child victim – identified as ‘Jane Doe 2’.

Jane Doe 2 told investigators she was 14-years-old when she met Kuentzel on Omegle, a video chat site, but began communicating through Snapchat and Kik later. Through these apps Kuentzel requested nude images, to which she complied.

Under federal statutes, Kuentzel is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 30 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Wan. It was investigated by the FBI, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Canton, Mich., Police Department.