Petersburg, Illinois, Man Charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, Receipt, and Distribution of Child Pornography
PEORIA, Ill. – Robert Shawn Anderson, 54, of the 300 block of Spruce Street in Paxton, Illinois, was found guilty, for the second time, yesterday of one count of enticement of a minor. The case was being tried for the second time after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that in the initial trial, Anderson should have been able to argue that law enforcement had entrapped him into trying to have sex with a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl.
Over two and a half days of trial, the government presented evidence to establish that Anderson arranged to meet an individual he believed to be a 15-year-old minor for sexual activity on the dating application MeetMe. The government also proved that law enforcement had not entrapped Anderson into his attempted sexual liaison with a child.
“Anderson’s conviction is evidence of the powerful results that can be achieved through state, local, and national law enforcement cooperation,” said United States Attorney Gregory Harris. “This outcome and operation reinforce our continued commitment to combat sexual predators who would prey upon children.”
“The cooperation of the Attorney General’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office is critical to holding accountable individuals who would hurt children,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “This verdict underscores the commitment of state and federal law enforcement to protect the children of Illinois.”
“The FBI knows all too well the risk children can face when communicating with strangers online,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “And while our proactive measures demonstrate our commitment to stopping and holding accountable those who seek to sexually exploit children, we encourage parents to be equally proactive and remain aware of their child’s online activity.”
Anderson was arrested over Valentine’s Day weekend 2020 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation operation conducted in Kankakee County, Ill. The operation, dubbed Cupid’s Arrow, was conducted with the assistance of the Bradley Police Department, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon O’Brien who is also Deputy Bureau Chief for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas McMeyer represented the government at the trial before U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm.
Sentencing for Anderson has been scheduled on July 10, 2023 before Judge Mihm at the U.S. Courthouse in Urbana, Illinois. He faces statutory penalties of 10 years to life imprisonment, followed by 5 years to life of supervised release and must register as a sex offender. He remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The case against Anderson was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ 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, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.