Online Solicitation of a Child Sends Ohio Man to Federal Prison
|Feb. 18, 2014|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Harley Michael Peterson, 23, has been ordered to prison for using a telephone and a computer connected to the Internet to coerce and entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Peterson pleaded guilty to online solicitation Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.
Today, Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey took into consideration the need to protect the public and deter future criminal conduct and handed Peterson a total sentence of 120 months. Additional information was also presented today, including the fact that Peterson had been warned by friends in Ohio not to come to Texas and meet this child, yet he came anyway. Peterson will serve 10 years of supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will be required to comply with numerous conditions of release designed to minimize his contact with children and access to the Internet. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.
"This case illustrates the lengths child predators will go to take their inappropriate relationship from text to talk to what they hope will be physical contact,” said Moskowitz. "Sadly, today’s technology in the hands of a predator with access to children has put our children at greater risk than ever before. HSI will continue to work tirelessly to protect our kids and brings their abusers to justice.”
Between April 1, and Aug. 4, 2012, Peterson admitted be began communicating with a child he knew to be 15 years of age. He met the child online and their contact primarily occurred on a social networking website and an online computer gaming community website. The communications eventually progressed to telephone calls.
Peterson, of Toledo, Ohio, and the child chatted explicitly about his desire to engage in sexual activities with the child who clearly identified herself as a 15-year-old. As the communications continued, Peterson agreed to travel from his home in Ohio to Corpus Christi to engage in sexual activity with the child.
On Aug. 3, 2012, the child was reported as a runaway by relatives. Through examination of her online activities, relatives were able to determine her whereabouts and those of Peterson, who was subsequently arrested in Corpus Christi.
Peterson will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
HSI and Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force ICAC investigated.
Assistant United States Attorney Lance Duke is prosecuting the case, which 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."