US missionary jailed for 58 years for abusing Amazon children in Brazil

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 9:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 9:15pm

A former missionary who admitted taking pornographic photos of children while working with a tribe in the Amazon region of Brazil has been sentenced to 58 years in a US prison.

Warren Scott Kennell, 45, pleaded guilty to two charges of producing child pornography between 2008 and 2011.

Chief District Judge Anne Conway noted at the sentencing on Tuesday that Kennell had abused his position of trust as a missionary, the United States Attorney's office in Tampa said.

Warren, from New Jersey, conceded that he had befriended children in the tribe and then sexually abused them while working on assignment for the New Tribes Mission of Sanford, Florida.

Investigators found 940 pornographic images on an external hard drive in his luggage when he was stopped and searched in May at the Orlando airport.

According to prosecutors, he identified himself in one of the images as the man performing a sex act on a prepubescent girl.

"Kennell represents the worst kind of criminal, one that preys on innocent children," Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of the Tampa office of the Department of Homeland Security, said.

New Tribes Mission, located 50km north of Orlando, identifies itself on its website as an evangelical Christian ministry focused on developing churches among indigenous tribes, which it describes as being isolated from the Bible because of language and culture.

"We are heart sick," New Tribes Mission's Pam McCurdy said. "We are grateful to the authorities for the prosecution of this individual."

She added that New Tribes Mission was "steadfast in our commitment to do everything in our power to prevent this from happening again".