Kraigen Grooms Receives Suspended Sentence in Child Sex Assault Case

Kraigen Grooms, whose image went viral during a child sex assault investigation, was controversially sentenced to only time served.

Published Sep 14, 2016

Iowa teen Kraigen Grooms, depicted in a viral law enforcement warning about a child sex abuse investigation in 2014, will not serve any additional time in prison after pleading guilty to a single count of Engaging in a Lascivious Act with a Child:

In July [2016], Kraigen Grooms, 19, pleaded guilty to one [count] of Engaging in a Lascivious Act with a Child.

Wapello County Attorney Gary Oldenburger told KTVO that Grooms, aka Kraigen Simmers, was sentenced on that charge on Monday.

Grooms received a 10-year suspended sentence and five years of supervised release.

A photograph of Grooms went viral on 17 March 2014 when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release identifying him as "John Doe" and reporting:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is seeking the public’s help to identify a suspected child pornography producer, and rescue at least one child victim.

HSI special agents investigating this case believe "John Doe," a young adult male between 18 and 20 years old, produced child pornography in which he photographed himself engaging in sexual contact with an African American baby girl 12 to 18 months old. Today the girl may be about 2 to 2 1/2 years old.


The initially unidentified Grooms was sought in the course of Operation Round Table, a massive law enforcement effort aimed at child exploitation on the so-called dark web, where anonymized users can be difficult to track. Grooms was apprehended in March 2014, 30 hours after the ICE plea began circulating:

An Ottumwa teen is being held on sex abuse charges.

Police arrested 17-year-old Kraigen Grooms on Wednesday after they say he allegedly sexually assaulted a small child ... Police say due to the seriousness of the crimes, Grooms is being charged as an adult. If found guilty, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The web site and its attendant Facebook page were credited with Grooms' speedy apprehension. On 25 July 2016, Grooms pled guilty in court and was released pending sentencing:

19-year-old Kraigen Grooms faces up to ten years in prison for engaging in sexual acts with a one year old.

In 2014, Grooms, who was 17 at the time, was charged with second-degree sexual abuse.

The charge stemmed from a video tape that showed Grooms sexually assaulting the child.

In court, Grooms admitted to engaging in lascivious acts with the child.

Groom’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Until then, Grooms will be released on pre-trial supervision.

On 14 September 2016, The News & Observer reported additional details about the case, noting that Grooms remained in custody from his 2014 arrest until entering a guilty plea in July 2016:

Federal agents said Grooms had posted pictures to an underground child pornography website of himself having sex with a baby girl, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There was also allegedly video of the crime.

Grooms will have to register as a sex offender for life. He was released from custody after he pleaded guilty to the crime, and served time in juvenile detention and county jail between his arrest in March 2014 and his admission in July.

He originally faced up to 25 years in prison for felony sex abuse charges.

Kraigen Grooms' release was conditional on his lifelong registration as a sex offender. 

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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