Former New Tribes missionary gets 58 years for sexually abusing girls

Orlando Sentinel/January 30, 2014

By Amy Pavuk

A former missionary for the Sanford-based New Tribes Mission was sentenced to 58 years in federal prison Tuesday for sexually abusing girls who were part of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon and filming the acts.

Authorities said Warren Scott Kennell befriended and abused girls over a several-year period, while he was establishing a church with the Katookeena tribe.

Homeland Security Investigations agents began investigating the 45-year-old after receiving a tip that he posted pictures on a website used by people who trade child pornography.

When Kennell traveled from Brazil to Orlando in May, agents stopped and searched him at the airport.

Agents found several thumb drives and an external hard drive, and investigators located child pornography on the devices.

Kennell admitted he was the man abusing a young girl in one of the images and said he was responsible for photographing the second girl.

Investigators eventually found more than 940 images of child pornography on Kennell's hard drive.

Kennell was arrested in May, and subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography.

In a statement released Tuesday, New Tribes Mission spokeswoman Pam McCurdy said: "We are heartsick. Children are to be protected, not hurt. We are grateful to the authorities for the prosecution of this individual despite international legal obstacles. NTM USA is steadfast in our commitment to do everything in our power to prevent this from happening again. We ask you to please join us in prayer for the victims."

During his sentencing hearing Tuesday in Orlando, Kennell apologized to the victims and his family.

"I've hurt a lot of people," he said.

Kennell's father, Joe Kennell, asked the court for leniency and explained many of the good acts his son has done throughout his life, including in his youth.

Joe Kennell, who was also a missionary, told the court that while he and his wife raised their children in Brazil, Warren Kennell often provided medical care to the people they ministered to.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Davis Wilson said Kennell used his position as a missionary and "abused it in the most horrendous way."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos