U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
(504) 680-3000
October 28, 2015

Charlotte, North Carolina Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Scheme to Engage in Sextortion, for Coercing Minor to Engage in Sex, and for Distribution of Images Depicting the Sexual Victimization of Children

NEW ORLEANS—U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that JOHN MICHAEL FOWLER, age 51, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place, distribution and receipt of images depicting the sexual victimization of children, transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort, and coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle sentenced FOWLER to serve 300 months in prison, to be followed by ten years of supervised release. Additionally, FOWLER will be required to register as a sex offender.

According to court documents, in about September 2011, FOWLER met Victim 1, a 16-year-old female, and they developed a sexual relationship. Thereafter, when Victim 1 sought to end the relationship, FOWLER became angry and threatened to tell her family and the principal of her school about the relationship. He also threatened to send sexually explicit photographs of Victim 1 to her school and family. As a result of these threats, FOWLER continued to have sex with Victim 1 until about August 2013. FOWLER also sent sexually explicit pictures of Victim 1 via e-mail on numerous occasions.

In about August 2013, Victim 1 enrolled in a university in the New Orleans area and moved to the Eastern District of Louisiana. FOWLER continued to harass Victim 1. When Victim 1 sought to end the relationship, FOWLER threatened to harm her friends and siblings. He also sent sexually explicit photographs of Victim 1 to classmates at Victim 1’s school. Further, FOWLER contacted four of Victim 1’s classmates via e-mail in August 2014 and informed them that Victim 1 worked as a prostitute and was mentally unstable.

Beginning on about August 29, 2014, an FBI Special Agent assumed Victim 1’s identity and began corresponding with FOWLER via cellular phone. FOWLER promised not to hurt Victim 1’s sibling if Victim 1 agreed to allow FOWLER to come to New Orleans and have sex with her. Thereafter, FOWLER came to New Orleans and was arrested.

A search of FOWLER’S e-mail account and cellular phone revealed that, in addition to his victimization of Victim 1, FOWLER also sought and downloaded numerous images and videos of children as young as approximately two years old being sexually victimized. Moreover, law enforcement authorities learned that FOWLER met Victim 2, a fifteen-year-old boy, in Charlotte, North Carolina via an online classified advertisement website in July 2014 and, over the next month, coerced Victim 2 to engage in sexual acts with him.

“We thank the FBI and the Charlotte Police Department for their outstanding work in this case,” stated U.S. Attorney Polite. “Today’s lengthy sentence reflects our commitment to protecting our young people from sexual exploitation.”

“This matter is taken very seriously by everyone in the FBI’s New Orleans Office,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Dutton. “In addition, the FBI’s New Orleans Child Exploitation Task Force continues to work relentlessly in order to identify and locate any and all online child predators. “

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.”

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Charlotte, North Carolina Police Department in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg was in charge of the prosecution.

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