Fraud investigation uncovers allegations of child pornography

DETROIT – What began as a state identification fraud investigation has uncovered allegations of sexual abuse against at least one minor and a woman in a Detroit home, according to a criminal complaint. 

The complaint was filed March 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Ryon Lenell Travis. In it, federal investigators said that when police executed a search warrant at Travis' home on Tuller Street they found three women he called "wives" and a cellphone that had several photographs of child pornography.

"There was a third woman chained at the neck to the stripper pole, sitting in the living room," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said. "She had a chain around her neck with a padlock on the chain and then a longer chain that connected her to the stripper pole."

Stephanie Moore said she is one of those wives, but that she is one of four wives. Investigators believe two of the women are victims of human trafficking.

Investigators said the photographs showed a 5-year-old girl engaged in sexual acts with an adult male.

In one of the photographs, the child was on a sheet that had a blue and white pattern. The same sheet was photographed by police in a bedroom in Travis' home, the criminal complaint said. 

Investigators also found a screenshot of the photographs in thumbnail form in Travis' sent text messages, the criminal complaint said. 

West Bloomfield police were originally investigating Travis for fraud, allegedly charging more than $50,000 to a West Bloomfield business's credit card.

Moore said Travis is a "sovereign citizen," someone who doesn't recognize laws, courts, or law enforcement. He demanded the federal court to drop the charges against him as part of his beliefs.

"My point is that all laws are commercial in nature and I am a natural born human of the American land," Travis said. "Since all laws are commercial in nature and I choose not to do business with this court, I ask that this case be dismissed."

His motion was denied.

Travis is charged with possessing, producing and distributing child pornography, and sex trafficking. 

About the Author:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.