A high-tech investigation by international, national, and local law enforcement agencies has led to a 135-year prison sentence for a prior sex offender who created a series of child pornography images while repeatedly abusing a young girl. Charles R. Burge, 36, of Kansas City, received the prison term on February 18 in Platte County after earlier pleading guilty to three counts of first degree statutory rape, sexual exploitation of a minor, enticement of a child, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “This man was brought to justice following a complex, high-tech investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies. The message from this case to child predators is simple: We are hunting for you, we will use the power of technology to find you, and we will bring you to justice.”
The investigation involving Burge began with a request to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children from a foreign law enforcement agency to help identify a series of child pornography images known as the “Lexie” series.
As a result of that request, investigators with the Department of Homeland Security in Boston began attempting to identify the victim depicted in the images in March 2014.
The “Lexie” series consists of about 140 images which chronicle approximately four years of abuse of a girl between the ages of eight and 11. The images had been altered using Photoshop or a similar program to hide things in the images that might reveal the perpetrator’s identity or location.
After an extensive investigation by Homeland Security agents from Boston and Kansas City utilizing cutting-edge computer forensic methods, authorities identified the victim in the photos as a girl living in Platte County.
Law enforcement officers served a search warrant at a Kansas City residence in Platte County on October 3, 2014. Burge and the girl depicted in the photos were both present at the residence when the search warrant was served. Investigators also found numerous items that matched backgrounds in the “Lexie” series.
Burge was immediately arrested, charged the next day, and has remained in the Platte County jail since. He had been convicted of a 1996 rape of an eight-year-old child in Arkansas. At the time of his 2014 arrest, he was on probation in Platte County for failing to register as a sex offender.
Circuit Judge Tom Fincham sentenced Burge to 30 years in prison on each of three counts of first degree statutory rape, 25 years for sexual exploitation of a minor, 20 years for enticement of a child, and 10 for endangering the welfare of a child. Fincham ordered the first five sentences to run consecutively, resulting in a 135-year sentence.
Zahnd said, “Some judges in other jurisdictions have suggested that child pornography is ‘just pictures’ and complain that long sentences for possessing child porn are unjustified. But this case proves that the demand for child pornography fuels horrific sexual abuse of actual children. The real victim in this case happened to be an elementary school student from Platte County, but her abuse was promoted by perverts around the globe. Unlike some judges elsewhere, Judge Fincham fully recognized the clear and present danger presented by child pornography.”
The case was investigated by Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Western Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Chris Seufert and Blake Sherer.
A photo of Burge is above. If you need additional information, please feel free to contact our office.
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third Street, Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri64079
(816) 858-3472 (fax)