A 41-year-old Paducah businessman has been charged with a single count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. Kenneth White owns restaurants Gold Rush Cafe and Ken’s Place in Paducah.
A FBI agent on June 10 filed a criminal complaint against White. According to the complaint, White knowingly attempted to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce an individual under 18 years old to engage in prostitution and in sexual activity.
The complaint said an FBI undercover agent posted an advertisement referencing incest as part of an undercover investigation. White allegedly initiated a conversation with the agent via email. The agent posed through emails and text messages as a single father offering to watch someone have sex with his 10-year-old daughter.
The complaint said White sent sexually explicit pictures of himself over email. The agent sent White pictures of a “purported child,” which the complaint said were “not real,” and a fictitious link of purported child pornography. The emails and text messages were exchanged from April 28 to June 9 this year.
According to the complaint, White said in an interview with the FBI he travelled to Illinois to meet the man and his daughter. He allegedly said the thought of the 10-year-old daughter sexually excited him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Bloodworth said if found guilty, White could face up to 30 years in federal prison. He said White is currently out on bail with conditions. Bloodworth said those conditions include electronic monitoring with GPS location services. White’s bond was approved June 16. His arraignment has been set for July 8 at 1 p.m. at the U.S. District Courthouse in Benton, Illinois.
On Saturday, Gold Rush Cafe on Facebook said the restaurant is still open under employee management. Manager Pam Johnson said in the post White has removed himself from the operations of the restaurant and that employees “understand the public's outrage about the criminal charges brought in Illinois.”
As of Tuesday, the post had more than 500 comments on Facebook with some patrons expressing concern for employees, but pulling support from the restaurant.
Paducah resident Wendy Ditterline has been a Gold Rush Cafe customer since 2011 and said she has known White for awhile.
“We thought we were pretty good friends with him,” she said. “We used to go several times a month.”
Ditterline said she will not be returning to the cafe. She said she believes the whole community feels this way.
“Nobody wants to support Gold Rush or Ken’s Place because, let’s be honest, the money’s going to go into his pocket,” she said.
Ditterline said she doesn’t know what to do about White’s employees but wishes the community wouldn’t take it out on them.