Crime

Spanaway woman charged with child rape after partner busted on flight by fellow passenger

Michael Kellar and Gail Burnworth were federally charged with child sex crimes Friday after a passenger on a flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Aiport saw the pair texting about the crimes. Burnworth, of Spanaway, was charged Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court with child rape.
Michael Kellar and Gail Burnworth were federally charged with child sex crimes Friday after a passenger on a flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Aiport saw the pair texting about the crimes. Burnworth, of Spanaway, was charged Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court with child rape. Courtesy photos

Pierce County prosecutors have filed state charges against the Spanaway woman arrested last week after a text message conversation about child pornography was seen on a flight out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Gail Burnworth, 50, faces one count of first-degree child rape, one count of first-degree child molestation and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Pierce County Superior Court. Her arraignment date has not been set.

Burnworth had her first appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, where she faces one count of conspiracy to make child pornography. The man prosecutors say she was texting, 56-year-old Michael Kellar of Tacoma, was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Northern California with one count of conspiracy to make child pornography and one count of attempting to entice a minor into sexual activity.

According to Pierce County charging documents:

A text message conversation Kellar had with Burnworth while flying from Sea-Tac to San Jose was observed by a passenger sitting behind him, who took pictures of the messages and contacted law enforcement.

Burnworth and Kellar described how she was going to record her molesting one of the children she babysits and then send him the video.

San Jose police found Kellar in the airport and discussed the messages with him after reviewing them. He said he understood the woman’s concern because he was texting a “very kinky” woman.

Kellar turned his phone over to police, who found texts to Burnworth that said he wanted various kinds of pornography, including “kid videos.”

Kellar told police he met Burnworth through an online dating site.

When Pierce County sheriff’s deputies served the search warrant on Burnworth’s home, where she lived with her ex-husband, they identified three children who lived there, ages 14, 7 and 5.

They met with Burnworth, who they say admitted to being sexually attracted to children and to producing child pornography to send to Kellar.

She told deputies she was eventually planning to let Kellar drug and rape them while she recorded the assaults.

None of the children told detectives they had been sexually abused.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker

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