Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced that a Vandalia, Illinois man prosecuted by his office was sentenced to 30 years in prison for possessing, reproducing and disseminating child pornography and indecent solicitation of an adult. The guilty plea and sentence are the result of an investigation Raoul’s office conducted into an alleged child pornography ring operating in Fayette County.
Ferrell Mason Kissiar, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of dissemination of child pornography, a Class X felony; one count of reproduction of child pornography, a Class X felony; two counts of possession of child pornography, a Class 2 felony; and one count of indecent solicitation of an adult, a Class 1 felony. Kissiar was sentenced to 30 years in prison by 4th District Circuit Judge Martin Siemer.
Two other defendants in the case pleaded guilty in May to charges stemming from their involvement in the alleged child pornography ring. Andrew Wehrle, 39, of Vandalia, and Amber Wehrle, 38, of Vandalia, will be sentenced on Aug. 8.
“Child pornography is a heinous crime, and the individuals who reproduce and disseminate these horrific images must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Raoul said. “The partnerships between my office and local law enforcement were critical to our ability to stop these individuals from further victimizing children.”
The Vandalia Police Department assisted the Attorney General’s office with the investigation.
“As law enforcement officials, it is our responsibility to protect children from harm and bring those who exploit them to justice,” said Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray. “I commend the diligent work of all those involved in this investigation and hope that the outcome of this case serves as a reminder that child pornography is a serious crime that will not be tolerated in our communities.”
The cases are part of Attorney General Raoul’s work to investigate and prosecute child pornographers in Illinois. Raoul’s office, with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force that investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement agencies. The task force receives CyberTips, or online reports of child pornography, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Over the last several years, CyberTipline reports have steadily increased. In 2022, reports to the ICAC increased by 26% over 2021.
Illinois’ ICAC Task Force is one of 61 ICAC task forces throughout the country and is comprised of a network of more than 175 local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Since 2019, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has received more than 32,500 CyberTips and has been involved in more than 485 arrests of sexual predators. Since 2006, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has been involved in more than 1,960 arrests of sexual predators. The task force also has provided internet safety training and education to more than 1 million parents, teachers and students, in addition to more than 23,850 law enforcement professionals.
Raoul reminds the public that online child sexual exploitation can be reported at www.cybertipline.com, and child abuse can be reported at dcfsonlinereporting.dcfs.illinois.gov. In addition, information about local child advocacy centers can be found at www.childrensadvocacycentersofillinois.org.
Deputy Bureau Chief Shannon O’Brien and Assistant Attorney General Katherine Hegarty prosecuted the case for Raoul’s High Tech Crimes Bureau.