Maury County child porn suspects talk from jail after 469 count indictment

Crime Tracker

MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s a crime that rocked Maury County, allegations of adults having sex with children, and then sending those graphic images to multiple other people.

It’s been a grueling nine-month investigation that came to a boiling point Wednesday night when the Maury County grand jury handed down an unprecedented 469 count indictment against seven defendants.

Detective Sergeant Rob Wagonschutz is the lead investigator on the case: “This case is a clear case of adults taken advantage of children.”

Det. Sgt. Wagonschutz tells News 2 the case involved chasing thousands of documents, video files, photographs and websites for clues and evidence.

“Several have been cooperative with us, they know what they did was wrong,” said Wagonschutz.

The investigation all began in August 2019 when four Maury County school kids reported that one of their classmates was being abused. Investigators say school officials reported that to SRO’s who relayed the case to Sheriff Bucky Rowland and his investigative team.

“A lot of great work was done. It started with good communication with the schools,” said Rowland, “We got information relayed from the SRO and put a lot of time into it. And here we are months later, 400 plus indictments, and the investigation is ongoing.”

Rowland added: “We are working with homeland security and I’m proud of the schools and my officer here, especially Det. Sgt. Wagonschutz.”

Wagonschutz credits the four school kids for starting the investigation.

“Those four kids are the true heroes in this,” he said.

The seven people include Christopher Sayre, Julie Johnson, Connie Copley, Michelle Klen, Clinton Shawn Gransden, Angel Morales-Depasquale, and Jesse Smith. Investigators say all 7 are accused of either having sex with children, videotaping that activity or trading images of child pornography back and forth with one another.

Wagonschutz calls Gransden the main player in this alleged ring.

“The main player is not wanting to admit any guilt in this. He’d video certain things going on in the home that were sexual in nature with minor children,” said Wagonschutz.

The grand jury charged the 41-year-old Gransden with 252 crimes in total. Detectives say 181 of those 252 counts were charges of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.

“We seized his cell phone and that is where we found the bulk of the evidence that he was keeping the little trophies for himself that he would watch later. Once we got a search warrant, we found he had also been disseminating videos and photos to numerous other adults who have since been identified and arrested,” said Wagonschutz.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland says these crimes are the hardest to work.

“It is. These are the ones that take a toll on you. Anytime children are involved, those are the ones you watch TV or hear of another incident it takes you right back.”

News 2 spoke with six of the seven defendants Thursday at the Maury County Jail. Clinton Gransden refused to discuss the case with us and hung up.

Defendant Connie Copley, who detectives say had images of Gransden having sex with children on her cell phone, told News 2 she had no comment.

“I have nothing to say.”

Investigators tell News 2 that suspect Jesse Smith also had images of Gransden having sex with minors on his cell phone. Smith did briefly speak with News 2.

Smith: “I’m innocent.”
Cordan: That’s hard to believe.
Smith: “That is why the truth will come out. It says that in the bible.”

Angel Morales-Depasquale wouldn’t talk to News 2 without an attorney. Detectives say Gransden’s illicit acts were also captured on his cell phone.

“I have nothing to say to you,” he said before hanging up.

Chris Sayre said he is innocent. Investigative documents indicate he had video of children having sex on his phone. According to detectives, the children were identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Cordan: You say you are definitely innocent?
Sayre: “Yes, sir.”
Cordan: How do you get caught up in something like this, sir, if you are innocent?
Sayre: “I don’t know, I guess Gransden was sending video to people.”
Cordan: Did you ever get one of those videos?
Sayre: “I’m not sure if I did or not. The indictment says I did.”
Cordan: You don’t remember seeing it?
Sayre: “I’ve never seen it.”
Cordan: What are your thoughts on child porn?
Sayre: “Definitely a bad thing.”

And then there’s Michell Klen, indicted on 199 counts. Investigators say she is also a major player in the sexploitation ring.

Klen told News 2 she received news of the indictments in the jail around 3 a.m. She said she didn’t know how many charges the case was in total or what the other suspects in the case were charged with.

Klen said she has cried many nights, and other prisoners have treated her poorly after hearing about the crimes she is accused of. She wouldn’t say whether Clinton Gransden ever viewed pornography but she does blame him for her predicament.

Klen says she is a victim and she was taken advantage by others in the group.

Cordan: Are you guilty?
Klen: “No, I am not.”
Cordan: These charges sound terrible?
Klen: “It sounds terrible, I agree I am not like that. I have four children and this is the first time I am in trouble in my whole life.”
Cordan: Did this just start as something and it got out of control?
Klen: “Yes, basically. I don’t deserve looking at my whole life in prison. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about the whole thing. I wish I could go back, thought that a million times, wished it never happened. I wished I never met this person.”
Cordan: Did you ever look at any child porn or send any child porn?
Klen: “No.”
Cordan: And you want me to believe that?
Klen: “It is true.”

When asked what she would say in her behalf, Klen said, “I am a victim too.”


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