Springfield bus driver sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for sexual exploitation of a child

Sexual Exploitation of a Child News Graphic

A Springfield, Mo., man has been sentenced in federal court for taking sexually explicit photos of a young child and sharing the images in an internet chat group.

Gordon Wesley Roughton II, 42, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool on Thursday, Oct. 12, to 17 years in federal prison without parole.

On Sept. 22, 2022, Roughton pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation of a minor. At the time of his arrest, Roughton was employed as a seasonal bus driver for a children’s program for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, as he had been every summer from 2014 to 2019. Roughton also had been employed as a substitute teacher at schools in the Springfield area, and in the past had worked as a bus driver for Springfield Public School District and a Springfield Catholic school.

The investigation began on June 15, 2021, when a detective with the Springfield, Mo., Police Department received a CyberTip Report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. MeWe, a social media and social networking service, had discovered images of child pornography uploaded by Roughton.

On June 16, 2021, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Roughton’s residence. Roughton admitted he had participated in a chat group on MeWe where the group members traded child pornography. Roughton explained that he had no images of child pornography to trade and needed some to remain in the chat. Roughton took photos of the child victim to trade in the chat group and uploaded the images to MeWe.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the FBI.