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Man who organized online child porn groups gets prison time

December 18, 2021 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced in Atlanta to serve more than 12 years in federal prison for organizing online groups to share child pornography where users were encouraged to “share pictures and videos of all things taboo.”

Michael Stephen Autry, of Brownwood, Texas, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Atlanta to serve 12 1/2 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release. Autry, 42, had pleaded guilty in June to distribution of child pornography.

Autry created a group called “Taboo Train 2.0” on the Kik messaging app in June 2017. Federal prosecutors said in a news release that he wrote that the group was meant for members to “share pics and videos of all things taboo. ... incest, young, your own family members, etc. to discuss taboo fantasies and real life stories.”

An undercover FBI agent was invited to join the group and was able to record communications and postings and identify the group’s members. The group had more than 50 people, many living outside the U.S., but most didn’t post photos or videos, prosecutors said.

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Within a few weeks, prosecutors said, the group’s members showed more sexual interest in boys than girls, so Autry created a new group called “The Common Interest.” The undercover FBI agent was also invited to join that group. Again in an introductory message, Autry said the group was meant for taboo images, “specifically incest, teens, and taboo relationships (young/old, teacher/student, etc.)” That group had more than 60 members.

In November and December of 2017, Autry was added to two other groups on Kik where members shared photos and videos of children being sexually abused. He invited the undercover FBI agent to join both groups.

“It shocks the conscience when someone finds pleasure in looking at photos and videos showing children being sexually abused,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said in the release. “It is even more disturbing when someone like Autry gathers men together in online groups for the purpose of sharing these horrific images.”

Eleven other people have been charged with child pornography offenses for their membership in these Kik groups, prosecutors said.