SPARTA (WSIL) -- A Randolph County man is heading to federal prison after years of downloading and sharing child pornography on the 'dark web.'
Kory R. Schulein, 37, of Sparta, Illinois, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to 151 months in prison for knowingly receiving child sexual abuse material over the internet. He pled guilty 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 web site 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.
United States District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn noted that some of the images and videos included children as young as 5-years-old. “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. “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.