NEPHI, Utah (ABC4) — A Nephi man accused of being involved in child “sex tourism” and possessing child pornography was charged with 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor recently.
According to court documents, Homeland Security agents found that Kenneth Merlin Richens knowingly produced or possessed with the intention to distribute child pornography between Sept. 6, 2022, and Nov. 17, 2022, in Juab County.
Authorities also had reason to believe that Richens was involved in “sex tourism,” which refers to a person traveling to another nation with the intention to sexually abuse children there.
On March 30, Richens reportedly returned from the Philippines and was stopped by law enforcement at the SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, Washington. Authorities seized his phone and discovered child porn on the device, according to charging documents.
Metadata on those digital files allegedly showed that Richens had child pornography on his phone before traveling to the Philippines.
The ten second-degree charges filed against Richens were brought forward by Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes on Thursday, May 4. Richens was arrested a day later on a no-bail warrant. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 23.