Missouri Man Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison for Sending Sexually Explicit Images to an 11-Year-Old Girl
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 24, 2009|
GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Anthony Thomas Eriksen, age 47, of Festus, Missouri, today to eight years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for attempting to transfer obscene materials to a minor, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“It is a federal crime to send obscene photographs to a child under the age of 16 using the mail, Internet, or telephone” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The maximum sentence is 10 years in federal prison, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1470.”
According to Eriksen’s plea agreement, on February 17, 2009, the Montgomery County Police Department received information that an 11-year-old minor had been communicating with older men via Internet chat rooms and on her cellular telephone. The minor stated that she informed the men that she was 19 years old. Law enforcement obtained the minor’s cellular telephone and computer, and saw that she had been receiving graphic text messages from an individual later identified as Eriksen.
On February 24, 2009, a law enforcement officer posed as the minor and used the minor’s cellular telephone to contact each of the men with whom she was communicating, notifying them of the minor’s true age of 11 years. Each of the men discontinued contact with the minor immediately, except for Eriksen, who continued sending sexually explicit text messages to the girl, repeatedly indicating his intent to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the 11-year-old girl. Eriksen also requested that the girl send him naked pictures of herself and asked her to travel to Missouri to engage in sexual acts, discussing bus, train, and plane schedules and costs. On March 5, 2009, Eriksen sent sexually explicit text messages to the minor’s cellular phone, describing additional sexual acts that he would like her to perform and simultaneously sent two obscene pictures to her cellular phone.
On March 16, 2009, Eriksen again solicited the minor to travel to Missouri to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Eriksen and the undercover officer posing as the minor agreed that she would travel to Missouri by train arriving at St. Louis Gateway Station on March 21, 2009 at approximately 7:21 p.m. Eriksen directed the minor to wear “a skirt with no panties,” to the train station and described various sexual acts he would perform upon her upon arrival. At the time of the train’s arrival on March 21, 2009, Eriksen sent the girl another text message, this time posing as “Detective Warren” with the “Saint Louis Metro Police Crimes Unit.” “Detective Warren” stated that Eriksen had been arrested for “attempting to meet a girl for sexual purposes.” Eriksen further requested that the minor “come in” to provide additional information and offered to pick her up at her location.
Eriksen was arrested at his place of employment in Festus, Missouri. When asked about the final text messages, Eriksen stated that he made it up “because [he’d] get into trouble” and that he planned to leave her at the train station.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Details about Maryland’s program are available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_safechildhood.html.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Festus, Missouri Police Department, the Jefferson County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri for their work in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan E. Foreman, who prosecuted the case.