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Cannon Earl Kress
Courtesy of Catawba County Sheriff's Office

Arkansas Man Arrested In Hickory Sentenced In Child Pornography Case

A man who was arrested by authorities in Hickory has received a federal prison sentence in a child porn case. 50-year-old Cannon Earl Kress of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday (March 14) for distribution of child pornography. The announcement was made by Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Upon his release from prison, Kress will be subject to a lifetime of supervised release and must register as a sex offender. U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered Kress to pay $18,000 in assessments and restitution. The Boone Police Department investigated the case.

According to court documents and Thursday’s sentencing hearing, in October 2022, Kress started a group on Kik where members of the group posted child pornography images and videos and discussed their sexual interest in children. An undercover detective infiltrated the group and downloaded child pornography videos that Kress had uploaded to the group.

The undercover detective also chatted with Kress via the Kik messenger application. During those communications, Kress expressed an interest in engaging in illicit sexual acts with a five-year-old female child and arranged with the detective to meet and have sex with the child.

On November 2, 2022, Kress traveled to Hickory, North Carolina, for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with the child. Law enforcement was waiting for Kress at the pre-arranged meeting location and arrested him. Law enforcement seized Kress’s phone and discovered child pornography videos on it. 

On October 10, 2023, Kress pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography. At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, the Court granted the government’s request for the maximum 20-year sentence due, in part, to the nature and circumstances of Kress’s offense.

In making the announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended HSI and the Boone Police Department for their investigation of the case. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.