Marionville Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Child Exploitation
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Marionville, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for child sexual exploitation.
Darren Eugene Schaefer, 37, of Marionville, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Schaefer to a life term of supervised release following incarceration.
On June 17, 2015, Schaefer pleaded guilty to using the Internet and cell phone to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity.
According to court documents, a task force officer with the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force investigated a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in May 2014 that Schaefer was contacting underage females on the social networking site MeetMe. Schaefer was asking underage females if they wanted to meet for sexual acts. Schaefer sent messages indicating that he was interested in sexual contact with seven underage females. After contacting the females using the instant message feature on MeetMe, Schaefer would attempt to move the conversations to cell phone text messages.
During the on-line communications between Schaefer and the underage female victims, Schaefer admitted to the victims that he was 35 years old, and stated that he preferred younger females. In one instance, one of the victims asked Schaefer why he posted his age on MeetMe as 14 years old if he was really 35. Schaefer replied that was the only way he could see underage females on this Web site and communicate with them. One victim asked him if he knew he could get in trouble for what he was doing. He replied he knew he could get in trouble but hoped he would not.
A federal search warrant was executed at Schaefer’s residence on June 17, 2014. Schaefer told officers that he talked to hundreds of girls on various social networking Web sites and that he had contacted underage girls several other times using MeetMe. Schaefer also admitted to meeting at least three 16-year-old girls for sexual intercourse over a 10-year period. He reported that he had met all three of them from social networking sites on the Internet. He met two of the girls in Nixa and one at Hood’s Truck Stop on 1-44.
Officers seized two laptop computers, two external hard drives and Schaefer’s cell phone, all of which have been forfeited to the government. More than 200 images of child pornography and a total of 474 images of child erotica were located on multiple electronic media devices.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force, Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) 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.”