KANSAS CITY, MO—David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Missouri man was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for drugging and molesting 13 child victims, with some of the sexual abuse videotaped, over a four-year period.
James Phillip “Phil” Edwards, 63, of Kansas City, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to 245 years in federal prison without parole.
“We’re satisfied that an extremely dangerous sexual predator is guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Ketchmark said. “A virtual life sentence is the only just resolution for a self-confessed pedophile who drugged innocent children in order to sexually abuse them and then recorded videos of his molestation. This serial abuser will never victimize another child for the rest of his life.”
On March 16, 2012, Edwards pleaded no contest and the court entered a judgment of guilty to all 21 counts contained in an April 7, 2010, federal indictment. Edwards was found guilty of 12 counts of producing videos of the sexual abuse of 12 separate children, the attempted production regarding a 13th child, the advertising and attempted distribution over the Internet of images of the sexual abuse of other children, and possession of a large collection of child pornography downloaded from the Internet. The court also found Edwards guilty of five counts of administering a drug to some of the victims to facilitate these crimes.
Edwards created multiple videos of his serial molestation of 13 victims, whose ages at the time of their molestations ranged from 6 to 13 years old (although evidence indicates one girl may have been victimized as young as 4 years old). All of the sexual abuse occurred at Edwards’s residence, with all but one of the videos recorded in his basement, between July 21, 2001, and June 23, 2005. Edwards admitted that he actually started this criminal activity in 1997.
Edwards admitted to law enforcement agents that he drugged the victims with sleeping pills, including Ambien and its generic, which were hidden in ice cream and soft drinks that he served to the children. The victims in the videos appear drugged and are obviously unconscious, even though their bodies are being subjected to a variety of molestations. Often they are in bed with other children, who also remained unconscious as Edwards molested one or more of them in the same bed. Edwards drugged another boy—the brother of one of the victims—on more than one occasion so he would stay asleep in the bed on which Edwards was performing multiple molestations with the girls.
Edwards admitted to using his young son to unwittingly lure victims and their friends to his home for sleepovers. In forensic interviews, a few of the victims recalled having ice cream-eating contests at Edwards’s house. However, none of the victims knew they were being drugged.
Evidence cited by the government includes a videotaped confession that Edwards made to law enforcement agents, as well as pictures, videos and documents that Edwards created on his computer. Those documents included “How to Molest Young Girls,” which provides specific information about dosage amounts and other instructions for drugging and molesting children. Another document is entitled, “Pedo Handbook” and includes a section entitled “Drugging Children and Preteens.”
Edwards was caught in two separate undercover sting operations in 2009 by two different law enforcement agencies that were investigating the use of file sharing programs to trade child pornography. Edwards was downloading child pornography from the Internet, using a peer-to-peer file-sharing program that allowed files on his computer to be downloaded by other users. As a result of these undercover operations, Edwards was identified and arrested. The subsequent investigation uncovered the sexual abuse of the children who had been drugged and molested.
In May 2009, an FBI Task Force officer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma identified the IP address of Edwards’ computer, which was making multiple files with titles alluding to child pornography available for sharing over the Internet. The officer downloaded several files of child pornography, which depicted a known child victim. This conduct is the basis for the charge of advertising child pornography.
In June 2009, a detective with the Independence, Missouri Police Department also captured Edwards’ computer IP address during a separate investigation making multiple images of child pornography available to others to download. This conduct is the basis for the charge of attempted distribution of child pornography.
A federal search warrant was obtained ,and Edwards’s computer media was seized in October 2009. A forensic examination of an external hard drive revealed many additional images of child pornography. This is the basis for the charge of possessing child pornography.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham. It was investigated by the FBI, the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.