Jury Finds Clarkdale Woman Guilty in Baby Porn Case Linked to Colorado CreepsEXPAND
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Jury Finds Clarkdale Woman Guilty in Baby Porn Case Linked to Colorado Creeps

A federal jury has found an Arizona woman guilty of receiving, advertising, and distributing child pornography involving an infant.

Sarah Melisa Cox, a 41-year-old Clarkdale woman, claimed in a Phoenix New Times interview that she was an experienced hacker and was trying to hunt perverts online.

She also claimed that her teenage daughter had accessed incriminating sexually explicit images involving a 1-year-old girl and had been communicating with a Colorado pedophile.

The jury agreed with prosecutors that Cox had exchanged emails and images with the Colorado pervert herself. That man, Richard Hennis, was sentenced to 27 years in prison last year for encouraging fellow Colorado Springs, Colorado, resident Brandi Leonard to molest her baby and send him photos of the act, which she did. Leonard received 20 years for the crimes. Hennis also sent the photos to Cox, who communicated with him in her online persona, "Jade Jeckel," on the Kik instant-messaging app.

In emailed conversations that New Times made public in 2016, "Jeckel" offered to “get” and molest a friend’s 3-year-old girl during conversations with Hennis, who's screen name was "funguy4u2usethat," in November and December 2015.

"I thought about getting my friend's 3 yr old girl," Cox messaged Hennis on November 29, 2015, and then, minutes later, "I'm going to get the 3 yr old."

"When?"

"ASAP," Cox replied, adding that she intended to "touch" the toddler and perform oral sex on her.

"I'm so jealous," Hennis replied.

Cox never carried out the idea.

Following a three-day trial in Phoenix, the jury convicted Cox on three counts of receiving child pornography, one count of advertising it and one count of producing it.

Sentencing is set for Wednesday, August 1, at 1:30 p.m. in Arizona U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver's court room. According to federal sentencing guidelines, she faces five to 20 years on four of the counts, and 15 to 30 years for the production count. Assuming the prison sentences can be served concurrently, that's 20 to 50 years of hard time.

New Times' news editor Ray Stern interviewed Cox by phone the day after she was charged.

She claimed her daughter, 12 at the time, used the JadeJeckel handle in May 2015 to create a Kik account.

"I'd never even heard of it," Cox said of the app. "My daughter was talking back and forth to this fucking pervert for months."

She claimed she confiscated the girl's phone and pretended to be her daughter in an effort to lure and trap the man. Cox depicted herself as a veteran hacker with the online activist group Anonymous who had investigated pedophiles before.

"I've made a career out of chasing people like this," she told Stern in 2016. "So I went on a hunt for this guy, gathering all the information I could to turn in to the police."

But she never did, and in the same interview, offered conflicting accounts of why she hadn’t.

As a result of that interview, government prosecutors subpoenaed New Times and Stern to testify about the exchange.

Later, the government balked, arguing in pretrial motions that Cox’s interview amounted to “self-serving hearsay,” with no value as evidence.

On May 3, New Times participated in a conference call with assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Brooks and legal defender David Eisenberg about the case. Ultimately, Brooks and Eisenberg agreed it wasn't necessary to put Stern on the witness stand.

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