Kentucky Man Pleads Guilty to Traveling for Illicit Sex with a Minor
KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kentucky man pleaded guilty in federal court today to traveling to Missouri for illicit sex with a 15-year-old girl and to attempting to entice a second child victim for sex.
Marvin D. Herren, 53, of Owensboro, Ken., pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sex with a minor and to attempting to use the Internet to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.
By pleading guilty today, Herren admitted that he traveled from Kentucky to Missouri in March 2014 to meet a 15-year-old girl (identified in court documents as “Jane Doe”) to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
Herren initially contacted the child victim through social media on March 1, 2014. After a few days of communicating through social media, Herren began asking her questions of a sexual nature and they exchanged nude photos of themselves. On March 6, 2014, Herren sent an instant message to inform her that he was coming to see her in order to engage in illicit sex. Herren met Jane Doe and her friend at a restaurant near her high school. He drove them back to the high school, at which time her friend left them. Herren parked near the high school and he and Jane Doe engaged in illicit sexual activity in the back seat of his car. Herren returned to Kentucky; although he did not see Jane Doe again, he continued for a short time to contact her by instant messaging.
Investigators searched Herren’s computer and discovered a search query for runaway laws in Missouri, statutes of limitations on statutory rape in Missouri, a pregnancy calculator and a document containing the ages of consent by state.
In May 2014, during the investigation of the allegations by Jane Doe, an FBI special agent assumed an undercover identity on Facebook of a female named “Jenny Breeze.” Although Herren was aware of the federal investigation related to Jane Doe, he began communicating with the undercover agent. The two began a Facebook conversation in which “Jenny” told Herren she was in the eighth grade the year prior and also gave her e-mail address. The two began chatting via e-mail frequently. On Jan. 8, 2015, Herren asked “Jenny” how old she was and she stated that she would turn 15 years old on Feb. 13, 2015. This was the first of several conversations with “Jenny” which were explicitly sexual in nature. On Jan. 12, 2015, Herren e-mailed a nude photo of himself.
Herren made arrangements to meet “Jenny” at a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant. When he arrived at approximately midnight on Jan. 23, 2015, he was placed under arrest.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Herren is subject to a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 25 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Luna. It was investigated by the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department and the FBI.
Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”