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Friday, January 14, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


KNOXVILLE, Tenn — A Knox County man pleaded guilty today to attempting to entice a 13-year-old child to engage in sexual activity, to being a registered sex offender when he attempted to entice the minor, and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

David DeSmit, 53, of Knoxville, Tenn., was indicted for three counts by a federal grand jury on October 5, 2010. Count One of the Indictment charges DeSmit with attempting to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. Count Two of the Indictment charges DeSmit with being a registered sex offender when he attempted to entice a minor. Count Three charges that DeSmit was a felon when he possessed a firearm.

Today, DeSmit entered his guilty plea to all three counts before the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, U.S. District Judge, who set a sentencing hearing for April 27, 2011.

The criminal complaint in this case details that on August 24, 2010, DeSmit went to a female acquaintance’s Knox County residence where he met her13-year-old grandson. DeSmit obtained the child’s cellular telephone number and began communicating with the child. On August 25, 2010, one of the child’s parents identified DeSmit in Just Busted, a local publication that includes mug shots of sex offenders. The child’s parents searched the internet to verify that DeSmit was a registered sex offender, and notified law enforcement that he had contacted their son.

On August 26, 2010, a Knoxville Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children task force officer began working in an undercover capacity and posing as the 13-year-old. The task force officer contacted DeSmit via text message. DeSmit communicated that he held a position as a law enforcement officer and initiated sexual discussions in the chats. DeSmit inquired about what the child thought about sex with a male and engaged the undercover in a series of explicit conversations about engaging in sex acts.

On September 29, 2010, DeSmit drove to a local Knox County park to meet the child at a pre-arranged location. Instead, law enforcement officers arrested DeSmit on the scene.

The potential penalty for Count One of the Indictment is a mandatory term of 10 years in prison up to life, a fine of $250,000, a term of supervised release of five years and up to life, and a $100 special assessment. Count Two carries a penalty of 10 years consecutive to the prison term imposed under Count One, and a $100 special assessment. Count Three carries a potential penalty of not more than 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, a term of supervised release of three years, and a special assessment of $100.

This conviction is the result of a collaborative investigation by the Knoxville Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Millican represents the United States.

This case was part of the Department's Project Safe Childhood program. Project Safe Childhood is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat child exploitation. Initiated in May, 2006, Project Safe Childhood combines law enforcement efforts, community action, and public awareness. The goal of Project Safe Childhood is to reduce the incidence of sexual exploitation of children.

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