SPOKANE, Wash. – A man accused of raping his daughter and posting videos of the abuse online was arraigned Friday after returning to the United States from Hong Kong.
Kenneth John Freeman, 45, appeared in federal court in Spokane a day after his extradition. He was indicted in January on one count of producing child pornography and one count of transporting child pornography; each count carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.
A half dozen U.S. marshals were in the courtroom with Freeman, his wrists shackled to a waist chain, during a 10-minute arraignment. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno entered a not guilty plea for Freeman and ordered him held without bond; a trial date has not been set.
Freeman made no statement and quietly answered "I do, your honor" and "Yes, your honor" to Imbrogno's questions on whether he understood his rights.
Jaime Hawk, a federal public defender who assisted Freeman in the arraignment, declined to comment. Freeman has told jailers he wants no contact with reporters.
Freeman, a computer adviser, bodybuilder and former reserve sheriff's deputy in Washington's Benton County, also is wanted on federal child pornography charges in Oregon. He is also accused of child rape and bail-jumping in Benton County, state charges related to the suspected attack on his daughter.
Federal prosecutor Tom Rice said the Oregon charges stem from three separate incidents where Freeman allegedly took his daughter to that state, where the sexual abuse was again videotaped and distributed over the Internet.
In March 2006, Freeman fled the country for Hong Kong, living for a year in the interior of China before his arrest in May as he re-entered Hong Kong. He agreed to be extradited. Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service flew to Hong Kong on Monday and returned with Freeman on Thursday afternoon, U.S. Marshal Mike Kline said.
In a statement released to news media last week, Freeman did not directly address allegations by his now 17-year-old daughter that he videotaped her abuse four years ago and distributed the sexual assault via Internet pornographers. He did say he "never physically hurt or threatened" his daughter.
Freeman had been living in Seattle when he fled the United States last year, months after his daughter told her mother he had assaulted her. He was on the most-wanted lists of the Marshals Service and ICE.
His daughter also discussed the case on the TV show "America's Most Wanted." The posted videos of the abuse have been widely downloaded, officials said.
Benton County deputy prosecutor Adrienne Farabee, the Benton County prosecutor, said the girl's family is pleased Freeman has been returned to face charges. Family members attended Friday's hearing, but declined to talk to reporters afterward.