Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are asking for the public’s help to identify additional victims in a child sexual exploitation investigation involving Kyle Dale Ritsema, an assistant principal at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Pasco County, Florida.
This case was investigated by ICE Homeland Security Investigations HSI with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Ritsema, 36, of Land O’Lakes, was arrested Feb. 13 by HSI special agents and pleaded guilty Friday December 21, 2018 to producing, distributing and possessing child pornography.
The investigation has revealed that there may be multiple child victims, as well as a public health concern.
Any person who had unprotected sexual contact with Ritsema, or any person who was, or knows of someone who may have been, a possible child victim is urged to contact HSI at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or online tip form.
(Learn More. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018.)
“If there are more children that were victimized by this predator, we ask for the public and parents to help us identify them and make sure they receive the support they need,” explained HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.
“These young people did not know there was an adult predator on the other side of the computer and this should serve as a grave warning to our communities to be vigilant about our children’s online activities.”
Starting as early as November 2014 until the time of his arrest in February 2018, Ritsema enticed a 14-year-old child on the internet application “Grindr” – in full knowledge that the boy was a minor.
On at least five occasions, Ritsema met the child in person and had sex with him, over the course of approximately one year.
On one such occasion, Ritsema had sex with the child and used his smartphone to take several explicit photos of the child.
That same day, Ritsema shared graphic details of that encounter and transmitted the explicit photos to multiple other individuals.
(Project Safe Childhood – It doesnt matter who you are, it doesnt matter what youve achieved. Download sexual images of children or entice a minor online and you have committed a serious federal crime. You will go to prison and it will ruin your life. Courtesy of Project Safe Childhood and YouTube.)
Beginning in March of 2017, and until his arrest in this case, Ritsema had been an Assistant Principal (Vice Principal) at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Pasco County.
Before holding that position, Ritsema was the Assistant Principal at Pine View Middle School (appointed in July 2015), an Assistant Principal Administrative Intern at River Ridge Middle School (appointed in January 2015), and a math teacher and math coach at Paul R. Smith Middle School, Gulf Highland Elementary School, and Seven Springs Middle School (beginning in 2006).
(Please share. Are you sure your kids know who they’re talking to online? If someone demands sexual images from you, stop immediately and report it. In this PSA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) explore the dangers of sharing images online. Courtesy of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and YouTube.)
This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Middle District Florida Assistant United States Attorney Frank Murray.
Ritsema faces a minimum mandatory of 15 years, and up to 30 years, for producing child pornography, a minimum mandatory term of 5 years, and up to 20 years, in federal prison for each of the two child pornography distribution charges, and a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for the possession charge.
In total, Ritsema faces up to 80 years in federal prison.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.
In fiscal year 2017, more than 2,700 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 900 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form.
Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.
(Make it hard for predators to hide; download the Operation Predator app today from iTunes or Google Play. Courtesy of ICE .gov)
HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU)
‘Excellence in Homeland Security’
The HRVWCC is comprised of ICE HSI’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Section, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and HRSP.
Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
(Learn About ICE HSI Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) which conducts investigations focused on human rights violations in an effort to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven to those individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe. Courtesy of ICE .gov and YouTube.)
The unit has four important missions:
- To prevent the admission of foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers into the United States.
- To identify and prosecute individuals who have been involved and/or responsible for the commission of human rights abuses across the globe.
- To remove, whenever possible, those offenders who are located in the United States.
- To oversee the development of programs in response to the former President’s Presidential Study Directive-10, the prevention of mass atrocities.
The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 275 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes.
During that same period, ICE has denied more than 139 individuals from obtaining entry visas to the United States and created more than 66,000 subject records, which prevented identified human-rights violators from attempting to enter the United States.
Additionally, ICE successfully obtained deportation orders to physically remove more than 590 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.
Currently, ICE is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases that involve suspected human rights violators from nearly 96 different countries.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals or naturalized U.S. citizens suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are encouraged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form; or the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section at 1-202-616-2492. Callers may remain anonymous.
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