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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: August 10, 2017

Woman charged with sex abuse in plane texting case


Gail Lynn Burnworth was charged with one count of child rape in the first degree, child molestation in the first degree, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor for allegedly exchanging explicit text messages about child molestation with Michael Kellar while he was onboard a flight from Seattle to San Jose. An alert passenger saw the texts, took pictures with her phone, and told airport security when she landed.

“The hero of this story is the observant plane passenger who reported this threat to children,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Everyone can help protect children from sexual abuse by being vigilant.”

On July 31, 2017, the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at the San Jose Police Department was notified of an investigation taking place at the San Jose Minetta International Airport. Airport security was approached by a woman who said she was concerned about a text conversation she observed on a flight. A man in front of her was using his cell phone to text in a large font. The woman became concerned when the messages turned to child molestation. She used her own cell phone to photograph the man and the text messages, and then provided the photos to police.

The man was texting a woman named “Gail,” later identified as the defendant Gail Lynn Burnworth, 50. In text conversations, Burnworth said she would make videos of the children and she would pull down a child’s underwear and rub the child’s genitals. The screenshot also depicts Burnworth saying she needed to wait for “the parents” to be away.

The man was identified as Michael Kellar of Tacoma. Kellar told detectives he believed the woman he was texting lived with her ex-husband in Pierce County and that he was married with children. Burnworth, in fact, did live with her ex-husband and his children, T.B., age 14, K.D.B., age 7, and K.N.B., age 5.

After a forensic analysis of Kellar’s cell phone, the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force contacted the Seattle Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and an investigation in Washington got underway.

Seattle Police detectives and an FBI agent interviewed Burnworth. She admitted a sexual interest in children, boys and girls, and said she preferred the prepubescent body type usually found in children between 4 and 9-years-old. She admitted to producing images and videos of child pornography and sending those files to Kellar.

Burnworth admitted to sexually assaulting K.N.B., age 5, and producing ten to fifteen files of child pornography usually before, during, and after bath time. She also said she would digitally penetrate K.N.B. vaginally and anally while helping her dry off.

In one of the videos, K.N.B. raises her leg in an apparent attempt to protect herself from the sexual abuse. K.N.B. also yells, “Stop it.”

On August 1, 2017, federal agents arrested Burnworth. She has been charged in federal court with conspiracy to produce child pornography and remains in federal custody. Now that separate charges have been filed in Pierce County, she will be returned for arraignment at a date to be determined.

Kellar was arrested in California. He is charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography and two counts of attempting to entice a minor.

Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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