News and Press Releases

Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms the sentence of a Minnesota
Man who Traveled to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct with a Minor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2012

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Jan. 4, 2012, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence of Darrin Anderson, 36, Middle River, Minn., on one count of traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

In Bismarck, U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon said, “Mr. Anderson chose to use Facebook as a tool to target girls as young as 13 who lived in the Red River Valley for sex. The Eight Circuit’s opinion affirming Mr. Anderson’s 144 month sentence should serve a warning to on-line predators that they will face stiff punishment in North Dakota for their action.”

In August of 2009, Darrin Anderson, using the alias Tyler Anderson, created an online account on the social networking site Facebook. Using the fictitious identity, the defendant contacted the 13-year-old female victim in this case. Eventually, the fictitious Tyler Anderson introduced the victim to Darrin Anderson online. Darrin Anderson, using his real identity, then began texting the victim and offered to pay the victim cash in exchange for sexual favors. Eventually, the defendant traveled from Wallhala to East Grand Forks in order to engage in sex with the 13-year-old victim.

Shortly thereafter, the incident was reported to the East Grand Forks Police Department. Law enforcement interviewed the 13-year-old victim who told the officers that Tyler Anderson (a/k/a defendant Darrin Anderson) introduced her to Darrin Anderson on Facebook. Law enforcement then obtained a search warrant for Tyler Anderson’s Facebook profile and chats. According to information provided by Facebook, Darrin Anderson, using the identity Tyler Anderson, engaged in hundreds of private chats with local adolescent girls and attempted to sexually solicit them. In one instance, he
revealed to a young female that he was not Tyler Anderson, but that in reality he was Darrin Anderson.

On Feb.16, 2011, Anderson pleaded guilty to traveling from Wallhala, ND, where he was employed at the time, to East Grand Forks, Minn., to have sex with a 13-year-old girl in exchange for $300. U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson sentenced Anderson on May 2, 2011, to 144 months in prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. On Oct. 21, 2011, Anderson appealed the length of his sentence as substantively unreasonable. Today, the Eighth Circuit affirmed Judge Erickson’s sentence by holding
that the sentence was reasonable given the circumstances of Anderson’s offense.

The North Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office suggests that North Dakota families take the following steps to protect their children online:

  • Parents should talk to their children about who they are communicating with
    online;
  • Parents should ask their children what they would do if they were sexually
    solicited by a stranger on line and to develop a plan of action if such a
    solicitation occurs;
  • Families should report any online solicitation or inappropriate online communications with children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website at http://cybertipline.com

This case was brought as a 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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the East Grand Forks Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl prosecuted the case.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon argued the case on appeal.

 

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