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Snapchat and Text Messages Lead to Arrest for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

An Edina man has been arrested for two Class B felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor in Knox County.

Ryan J. Mathews, 25, was taken into custody on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. He is being held at the Clark County Jail on a $25,000 cash only bond.

According to court documents, Mathews is accused of knowingly creating obscene material with a 15-year-old through text messages, Shapchat messages and the exchange of photos on February 18 and 19, 2017.

Mathews allegedly admitted to having sexually explicit conversations with the minor to investigators.

The victim allegedly told an investigator the conversations were accompanied by photos of Mathews’ face and genital area.

This case was initially investigated by the Edina Police Department and turned over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control.

“It was turned over to DDCC because there were some jurisdictional issues, conflicts of interests and the serious nature of the offense,” said Edina Police Chief Ryan Bishop.

According to the Knox County Prosecutor Jo Fortney, if convicted Mathews is facing a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on each charge.

“The investigation by the MSHP DDCC was immediate and thorough, as was the actions of local law enforcement, once the charges were filed and a warrant was issued. Because we live in a world where access to social media is available to everyone, we must all work harder to protect children of all ages from those individuals who cross the line. It is never acceptable to send inappropriate sexual messages and or pictures to minors, and it is against the law. Fortunately, in this case the defendant’s actions were brought to the attention of the proper family members and law enforcement,” said Fortney.

Mathews appeared in court with his Public Defender, Kevin Locke, before Knox County Associate Circuit Judge Tom Redington the same day he was arrested.

Locke motioned the court for a bond reduction during the proceeding, which was denied by the Judge.

Mathews’ next court appearance, a preliminary hearing, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation. Ryan Mathews is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.