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Owatonna Sex Offender Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography, Threatening to Carry Out a Murder Plot

MINNEAPOLIS – An Owatonna sex offender has pleaded guilty on the first day of trial to producing sexually explicit images of a minor and sending graphic threats detailing a murder plot against his former child sexual abuse victim, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, in March 2021, law enforcement in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, began investigating Michael Lee Kurkowski, 28, regarding the communication and exchange of sexually explicit images of a minor. The investigation revealed that Kurkowski traveled to Pennsylvania to locate the minor and to try to continue a “relationship” after the minor attempted to end the online communications. In April 2021, Kurkowski was charged with multiple felonies and convicted in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, of corruption of a minor related to the sexual exploitation of the minor and was sentenced to 142 days in prison followed by probation. Kurkowski’s probation conditions required him to register as a sex offender, not to contact his victim, to refrain from behavior which may present a danger to others, and not to possess any weapons.

According to court documents, in November 2021, law enforcement began investigating Kurkowski’s online communications and sexual exploitation of another minor victim. Investigators reviewed several messages from Kurkowski to the minor describing in graphic detail a plan to travel to Pennsylvania where Kurkowski would murder the parents of his former victim, rape his sister, and then kill her in front of his former victim.

According to court documents, on February 4, 2022, law enforcement learned that Kurkowski had purchased a Greyhound bus ticket and was currently en route to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the general location of Kurkowski’s former victim and his family. FBI investigators tracked Kurkowski to a bus stop in Toledo, Ohio, where authorities took him into custody. According to court documents, when he was arrested, Kurkowski had with him a bag containing 16 heavy flex cuffs, electrical tape, a taser, a knife, rubber gloves, handcuffs, and hooded facemasks.

Kurkowski pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court before Judge Joan N. Ericksen to one count of threatening interstate communication and one count of production of child pornography. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Owatonna Police Department, Steele County Community Corrections, the Upper Allen Township (Pennsylvania) Police Department, the East Peoria (Illinois) Police Department, Watertown (Wisconsin) Police Department, Toledo (Ohio) Police Department, and the Cedar Falls (Iowa) Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea A. Walcker and Laura M. Provinzino are prosecuting the case.

Additionally, NCMEC’s peer support network, Team HOPE, can provide support, empowerment, and resources to families of missing or exploited children from people who have experienced a similar trauma. If you’d like to connect with someone for emotional support, contact gethelp@ncmec.org or 1-877-446-2632 ext. 6117.

 

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