Peoria, Ill. – Seth Morris, 25, of the 1000 block of N. Glenwood, Peoria, Ill., entered a plea of guilty yesterday, in federal court, to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, as announced by Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 14, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade.
During the plea hearing, on June 8, Morris admitted that in mid to late 2014, he took sexually explicit photographs of himself with a young child. Morris then used his cell phone to send the images to a 14-year-old girl on the social networking service, MeetMe, and requested that the girl send him similar photos of a young child that she knew.
On Dec. 26, 2014, agents of the U.S. Secret Service and Washington Police Department executed a search warrant at Morris’s home, and Morris’s cell phone was seized. Morris admitted that the phone was used to chat with a female under the age of 18 through MeetMe and that he had sent her sexually explicit images of a minor in an effort to receive additional images of child pornography in exchange.
The statutory maximum penalty for the offense of sexual exploitation of a minor is up to 30 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Hanna. The charge is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and a Special Task Force Officer from the Washington Police Department.
Morris has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest in December 2014.
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.