Michigan Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Sexting with Teenage Girl
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Derik Eugene Rothrock, 35, of Sturgis, Michigan, who pled guilty in federal court in March to receiving sexually explicit cell phone photos of a 15-year-old West Michigan girl, was sentenced on July 14 to a term of imprisonment of 40 years followed by a lifetime of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today. In exchange for his guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dismissed four counts of enticing three children to produce child pornography of themselves using their cell phones, and one count of possessing child pornography.
The federal penalty for receiving child pornography is usually a mandatory minimum of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum of 20. However, Rothrock faced an enhanced sentence of 15 to 40 years because he has a prior conviction for Criminal Sexual Conduct, Second Degree (Person under 13) in the 15th Circuit Court in Coldwater, Michigan. Shortly after his release from state prison on that offense, he violated parole by having inappropriate contact with children, including a sexual relationship, for which he was returned to prison. In July 2013, he met three West Michigan girls – ages 12, 14, and 15 – over a long weekend, sexually abused two of them, and convinced all of them to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves over text messages. Rothrock, then 34 years old, used a fake name and Facebook page with all three victims and told them he was either 19 or 21 years old.
In pronouncing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff stated that Rothrock’s “life has been out of control pretty much his entire life,” and “the longer we can keep him away from society, and young girls in particular, the better.” In denying Rothrock’s request for a below-guideline sentence based on his own history of being sexually abused as a child, the judge emphasized the need for individualized deterrence. “In terms of receipt of child pornography cases being scaled from 1-10, this one is a 10 or more. I do not think I have seen a receipt of child pornography case more serious than this one,” explained the judge.
U.S. Attorney Miles said, “We are pleased Mr. Rothrock can no longer prey on vulnerable children, kill their innocence, and steal more childhoods. This U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to aggressively fighting child predators who use technology and social media for evil.”
The case was jointly investigated by the Township of Kalamazoo Police Department, Michigan State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa K. Hessmiller prosecuted the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office; county prosecutor’s offices; the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC); the West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX); and federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement. For more information about Project Safe Childhood in West Michigan, including resources for children and parents, visit: http://www.justice.gov/usao/miw/programs/psc.html.