Illinois Couple Sentenced for Multiple Kidnappings and Transporting Minor with Intent to Engage in Sexual Activity
Nicole and Calvin Eason were sentenced today to each serve 40 years in prison for kidnapping and transporting a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney James A. Lewis of the Central District of Illinois and Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox of the FBI’s Springfield, Illinois, Division made the announcement.
Nicole Eason, 37, and Calvin Eason, 47, both formerly of Danville and Westville, Illinois, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid of the Central District of Illinois, who also ordered each to serve a lifetime term of supervised release. On Dec. 18, 2015, a federal jury in Peoria, Illinois, found Nicole Eason guilty of two counts of kidnapping and one count of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor. On Nov. 6, 2015, Calvin Eason pleaded guilty to all three counts in the indictment.
Evidence at trial established that in 2006 through 2008, the Easons sought to adopt through an informal process sometimes referred to as private “re-homing,” in which the legal adoptive family can no longer care for a child and transfers the child to another’s custody. In 2007, the Easons communicated with a minor’s parents about rehoming and misrepresented material facts about their background to gain the parents’ trust, including, among other things, that they had a home study “waiver,” which was used to verify the Easons as fit caregivers. Based on these misrepresentations, one of the minor’s parents transported the child across state lines in 2007 to live with the Easons. The minor testified that while in the Easons’ custody for nearly a month, both Nicole and Calvin Eason repeatedly sexually and physically abused her.
Evidence at trial also established that in 2008, the Easons kidnapped a second minor in the same manner, who was with them for a few days. That child and a third identified minor victim testified that the Easons subjected the minors to inappropriate sexual behavior and “grooming” while in their custody. All three minors also testified about the deplorable living conditions in the Eason home.
The FBI’s Springfield Division investigated the case in cooperation with the Vermilion County, Illinois, Sheriff’s Department. Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Toritto Leonardo of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson of the Central District of Illinois prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.