Utah man in youth leadership position at local church arrested for child pornography

Cell phone
Posted at 9:14 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 23:14:57-04

SPRINGVILLE, Utah — A Utah County man was arrested Tuesday after police say they found child pornography on his cell phone.

According to court documents, an acquaintance of 54-year-old Kevin G. Sykes of Springville was helping Sykes with his phone when he saw an image of child pornography open in Sykes' internet browser.

The witness reported this to police, who contacted Sykes and interviewed him.

After being told about the child pornography tip, Sykes claimed that the images were 3D art and did not portray anyone being victimized. He did admit that the images were graphic and depicted "young boys." He said he did not have any interest in pornography containing real children.

Sykes consented to a search of his phone. During the search, investigators say they found several images of computer-animated pornography that showed "young boys from infant to teen age being sexually assaulted by other children or adults."

Police say they also found real, non-animated images of child pornography on his phone, with both male and female victims estimated to be 8-16 years old. In addition, his internet history allegedly contained searches for explicit images of children.

A detective with the Utah County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit met with Sykes on Tuesday and informed him of what they found. Sykes claimed he did not know how the images got onto his phone, but later said he sometimes saves images "for the thrill of the catch" without going back to look at them.

Sykes was booked on four second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Sykes told police he was a youth advisor in his local church, working with boys who are 11-14 years old. He said he has never been alone with any of the boys, nor has he had any sexual attraction or sexual contact with any of them.

Still, police said they "encourage anyone who might have been victimized by Sykes" to call the Utah County Sheriff's Office at (801) 851-4010.