Arkansas Man Charged with Traveling to Missouri with Intent to Have Sex with Minor
On May 5, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 31-year-old Jerrell West of Forrest City, Arkansas, at his residence without incident. West is charged in a federal criminal complaint with travel with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor.
The Complaint alleges that on April 19, 2020, West drove from Arkansas to Missouri to pick up the 14-year-old victim from her residence. They met on the social media app “Monkey.” The victim stated the defendant drove them to a truck stop and raped her in the backseat of the vehicle. The defendant then drove the victim back to her neighborhood, where her parents and police had been looking for her immediately after she was discovered missing.
“Child predators think the Internet provides anonymity and protection from the law. By now, it should be clear the FBI not only has the tools, skills, and authority to identify them, but also the resolve to pursue them to the ends of the earth.” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. “The COVID-19 crisis has increased the amount of time our children are spending online, and with it, the risk of being targeted by predators.”
The FBI recently offered recommendations to help educate and prevent children from becoming victims of child predators and sexual exploitation during this time of national emergency.https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/school-closings-due-to-covid-19-present-potential-for-increased-risk-of-child-exploitation?utm_campaign=e-mail-Immediate&utm_medium=e-mail&utm_source=national-press-releases&utm_content=%5B795639%5D-%2Fnews%2Fpressrel%2Fpress-releases%2Fschool-closings-due-to-covid-19-present-potential-for-increased-risk-of-child-exploitation
West will appear in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas for his extradition hearing.
As a reminder, charges in a criminal complaint are not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.