- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

One of the nation’s most notorious accused child molesters was arrested this week on his arrival in Hong Kong by government officials in the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. Marshals Service said yesterday.

Kenneth J. Freeman, 44, a former police officer in Washington state who has been a fugitive for more than a year, had been on the Marshals Service “15 Most Wanted” list and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Most Wanted Fugitives” listing since 2005.

He is accused of molesting his daughter, 11, then posting videos of the abuse online.

Freeman was taken into custody at the request of U.S. authorities after information was developed last month by the Marshals Service and ICE that he intended to travel to Hong Kong to work for a U.S.-based company.

A task force of agents from the Marshals Service, ICE, the Benton County, Wash., Sheriff’s Office and agents from State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service had been tracking his whereabouts since 2005.

Although the People’s Republic of China and the United States have no extradition treaty, the Chinese government agreed to help when it was informed about Freeman, the Marshals Service said. A provisional arrest warrant was obtained in Hong Kong, where an extradition treaty still exists with the U.S.

Freeman was charged with child rape in Washington state and released on bail in December 2005. He fled the country after federal charges were filed in early 2006.

Authorities said Internet scenes showing the girl being raped by her father became one of the most widely downloaded child pornography videos in recent years.

An avid competitive bodybuilder and computer specialist, Freeman worked as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Benton County, Wash. Since 2006, authorities said, a series of charges against him by federal and local courts has made him the subject of a worldwide manhunt.

According to the Marshals Service, which coordinates national efforts to capture unregistered sex offenders and people charged with child abuse, Freeman’s arrest was not without incident, saying he attempted to flee and injured four officers in the process.

Last month, David Leroy Knellinger Sr., 59, of Richmond, pleaded guilty in federal court in Virginia to receipt of child pornography, admitting before U.S. District Court Robert E. Payne to using IMesh, a peer-to-peer software program, to obtain videos depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct — including those of Freeman’s daughter.

Knellinger faces five to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and supervised release for any term of years up to the remainder of his life. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 17.

ICE spokeswoman Kadia H. Koroma said law-enforcement authorities went public with their search after Freeman was featured on television’s “America’s Most Wanted.”

When the Freeman case received national publicity, Ms. Koroma said, calls to the center linked the girl on “America’s Most Wanted” to the unidentified child in the video series.

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