A Davidson County man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession of child pornography after a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led to his arrest.
Kevin Richard Heidel, 38, of Lexington was sentenced on Thursday to 240 months in prison followed by a twenty-year term of supervised release, for possession of child pornography, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Middle District Court in Greensboro.
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According to court documents, Heidel, who was a registered sex offender, was identified in 2019 by investigators from the Davidson County Sheriff's Office after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that an Instagram user in Davidson County was suspected of uploading images of child pornography to the platform.
In December 2019, Davidson County Sheriff's Office officers executed a search warrant at Heidel's residence where they located a cell phone that contained child pornography. Further investigation revealed child pornography on another phone belonging to Heidel that was located in the front yard of one of Heidel's neighbors, according to court documents.
The Davidson County Sheriff's Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Probation and Parole and Homeland Security Investigation assisted with the Heidel investigation.
In 2014, Heidel was arrested for taking pornographic photos of two girls under the age of 16. He was charged with two felony counts of indecent liberties with a child.
According to an arrest warrant at the time, Denton police interviewed the juvenile children and obtained information that Heidel made them undress and filmed them nude for sexual gratification. Two laptop computers and an electronic tablet were confiscated at the time of arrest.
Heidel is the third registered sex offender to be sentenced by the U.S. Justice Department Middle District this month. On Sept. 22, Christopher Lea Kahele, 40, of Moore County, was sentenced to 240 months of prison followed by 25 years of supervised release, for possession of child pornography.
On the same day, a Randolph County man, Luis Armando Diaz-Otero, 33, was sentenced to 150 months of prison followed by 20 years of supervised release after a tip from NCMEC regarding a Google account led to his arrest and conviction for possession of child pornography.
The cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The initiative is led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and focuses on coordinating federal, state, and local resources to better identify and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
For more information, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: Davidson County man gets 20 years for uploading child porn to social media