INDIANAPOLIS – Matthew Hostetler, 26, of Greensburg, Indiana, has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor.
According to court documents, on Jan. 16, 2020, a Winnebago County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department investigation uncovered Matthew Hostetler’s involvement in a Kik Messenger group chat created for individuals interested in child sexual abuse material.
According to court documents, Hostetler hid behind the username “WARRIORHEART1997” and sent graphic sexual abuse videos and images of a then 11-year-old girl he referred to as “Lola.”
On April 16, 2021, FBI agents and Greensburg Police Department officers executed a search warrant at Hostetler’s Indiana home and seized his cell phone. Many of the images Hostetler traded over Kik were coerced from the minor via Snapchat.
Hostetler reportedly bragged to other members of the group chat that “it took two months to get to this point with her (Lola), you gotta be patient and kind and sweet,” and “she’s in love with me. She literally jumps to do what I ask.”
A Department of Justice release states that “Lola” told investigators she met Hostetler on the internet. She told him that she was 13 years old and lived with her grandparents in Oklahoma. Hostetler instructed her not to tell her grandparents she was talking to him or she would get in trouble.
“Lola” stated that Hostetler routinely threated her if she did not send him sexually explicit images and videos.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Zachary A. Myers and Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office, and Chief Mike McNealy of the Greensburg Police Department made the announcement.
“It has long been the case that many pedophiles like this defendant use online platforms such as Kik and Snapchat to prey on children, and even preteens,” Myers said. “These criminals use lies, manipulation, and threats to sexually exploit children with utter disregard for the lasting trauma they inflict. I urge parents and guardians to talk to the children in their lives about what they’re doing online and make sure they have trusted adults they can turn to for help. I commend the FBI, the Winnebago County (Oklahoma) Sheriff’s Department, and the Greensburg Police Department for their work to seek justice for this victim and protect other children from this online predator.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, and Greensburg Police Department investigated this case.
The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge James R. Sweeney, who also ordered that Hostetler be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 30 years following his release from prison. Hostetler must also register as a sex offender where he lives, works, and goes to school.
Anyone who is a victim of child sexual exploitation should contact their local police department.
Resources for victims of child exploitation can be found at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdin/project-safe-childhood
The DoJ states that this case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.justice.gov/psc