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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

Friday, December 5, 2014

Jury Convicts Tennessee Sex Offender For Enticement Of A Minor and Travel With Intent To Engage In Illicit Sexual Conduct


Urbana, Ill.  – A jury deliberated for less than one hour yesterday before returning guilty verdicts against Joseph Cain Harrison, 37, of Nashville, Tenn., for enticement of a minor and two counts of travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. The jury also found that Harrison was a convicted sex offender at the time he committed the offenses in Champaign County, Ill. Sentencing for Harrison is scheduled on April 6, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough in Urbana.

During Harrison’s trial, which began on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, the government presented evidence that between July 1, 2011, to Jan. 20, 2012, Harrison used the Internet and a cellular telephone to entice an individual whom he believed to be 13 years of age to engage in sexual activity. The jury also heard evidence that Harrison traveled from Nashville, Tenn., to Champaign, Ill., on two occasions, Jan. 13, 2012, and Jan. 17, 2012, for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

Harrison was indicted by a grand jury in March 2012, following his arrest in the Middle District of Tennessee on January 20, 2012.  Harrison has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest.

Enticement of a minor carries a statutory penalty is no less than 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.  For each count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, the penalty is up to 30 years in prison; however, if a defendant has a prior qualifying sex conviction, the maximum penalty for this offense is 60 years in prison. Because the jury found that Harrison was a registered sex offender at the time he committed the offenses, there is an enhanced penalty of 10 years in prison served consecutive to the enticement and travel counts. The offenses include terms of up to life supervised release following any term of imprisonment.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, Springfield, Ill., and Nashville, Tenn., divisions; the Champaign Police Department; and the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department Sex Crimes Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson with the cooperation of Champaign County State=s Attorney Julia Rietz.

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 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.

Updated June 23, 2015