- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A former Kansas Bureau of Investigation deputy director pleaded guilty Thursday to sexual exploitation of a child after a pornographic image was found in an email and traced to his account.

Kyle Smith, 57, entered the plea before Shawnee County District Judge Cheryl Kingfisher. Prosecutors dropped two charges accusing him of trying to destroy evidence on a phone and computer. Sentencing is set for May 28 in Topeka.

“I agree that I knowingly possessed a picture of a nude teenager,” Smith told the judge.

The exploitation charge alleged that Smith possessed a photo of a teenage girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct on or about Nov. 7, 2013. An email containing the image was discovered by a KBI secretary who notified her superiors. They began investigating.

Smith faces up to 10 years in prison, but Assistant District Attorney Todd Hiatt said that if Smith was in a suitable treatment program, prison time could be avoided. Smith told the judge he was currently receiving treatment, but didn’t elaborate.

“We aren’t agreeing that this is an effective treatment program, but I’d like to listen to what the expert says,” Hiatt said.

Smith was arrested in early February and remains free on $15,000 bond. His attorney, Thomas Haney, said at the time that the charges involved viewing a publicly available image on a website and that no child was endangered.

Haney has described Smith’s departure from the KBI as a retirement.

Hiatt said the secretary deleted the image that was sent from Smith’s email account, but it was retrieved from internal KBI servers. Investigators with the district attorney’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation then had a Topeka physician assess the image and determine that the child was under the age of 18.

“It’s certainly not what you would think of as a family vacation photo,” Hiatt said.

Smith had been a visible figure at the KBI for decades, frequently representing the agency on high-profile matters and working with legislators on crime measures and funding for a new lab for the agency in Topeka.

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