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Press Release

Oquawka, Illinois, Man Sentenced to 180 Months in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of a Child and Receipt of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – An Oquawka, Illinois, man, Gale Hurt, 73, of the 1000 block of Grant Street, was sentenced on March 30, 2023, to 180 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for sexual exploitation of a child and receipt of child pornography.

At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that Hurt communicated with a fourteen-year-old girl in February 2022, using an online chatting application and his phone. During the initial conversations he pretended to be a fifteen-year-old girl, and then asked to text with the child. When the conversation moved to text messaging, he told the child he was a fifty-year-old man, sent the child nude images of himself and other pornography, and requested and received sexually explicit images of the child. Moreover, during those conversations Hurt discussed the two meeting to engage in a sexual relationship.

Also at the hearing, Senior United States District Judge Sue E. Myerscough found that Hurt had tricked the child into producing and sending the images to him, and that by his own admission he had received child pornography from other minors in the past.

Hurt was indicted in April 2022 and pleaded guilty in September 2022. He has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals since his arrest in March 2022, after he was charged by way of a federal complaint. The statutory penalties for sexual exploitation of a child are not less than fifteen years and up to thirty years in prison, not more than a $250,000 fine, and up to a life term of supervised release. The statutory penalties for receipt of child pornography are not less than five years and up to twenty years in prison, not more than a $250,000 fine, and up to a life term of supervised release.

The United States Secret Service investigated the case with the assistance of the Illinois State Police and Springfield Police Department Task Force Officers. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanner K. Jacobs represented the government in the prosecution.

The Hurt case 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

Updated March 31, 2023

Project Safe Childhood