Tacoma couple in child rape in-flight texting case indicted by grand jury
SEATTLE -- The Tacoma man and woman charged with child sex abuse crimes after a passenger on an airplane allegedly spotted the man's explicit texts about the abuse were indicted Wednesday by a grand jury in Seattle, according to a news release.
Gail Lynn Burnworth, 50, and Michael Kellar, 56, were both charged in federal court Aug. 4 with conspiracy to produce child pornography, court documents state. Kellar is also charged with two counts of attempted enticement of a minor.
The two exchanged text messages in July that involved a plan to molest two children and film the assault, according to court documents.
In addition to the federal charges, Burnworth has been charged in Pierce County Superior Court with first-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, according to a news release.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced the indictment of Burnworth and Kellar. The two will be arraigned on the indictment in United States District Court in Tacoma on Sept. 18, according to the release. Both are currently being held in custody.
Kellar was first arrested after a passenger on a flight to San Jose, Calif,. in July spotted the explicit text messages Kellar sent to Burnworth and notified authorities when she landed, according to court documents.
Burnworth admitted to authorities that she had sexually assaulted one of the children and took videos and photos during the assaults and sent them to Kellar, documents state. Authorities said Burnworth had access to the children as a baby-sitter and that Kellar was getting to the victims through her, according to The Associated Press.
In hundreds of text messages between the two obtained by authorities, Kellar and Burnworth discuss the plan to drug, sexually assault and film the two children, ages 5 and 7, court documents state.
Kellar and Burnworth admitted to authorities they had sexual interest in young children, documents state.
The two reportedly met through an online dating site. Burnworth said in court documents the two had a sexual relationship that involved fetish behavior.
According to court documents, Burnworth admitted to authorities that she would have allowed Kellar to sexually assault one of the children and that it may take drugging the child.
The sentencing range for the federal charge of conspiracy to produce child pornography is 15 years to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Attempted enticement of a minor has a sentencing range of 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the San Jose Sheriff's Office and the Seattle Police Department Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.