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Press Release

Texas Man Indicted for "Sextorting" Minors in Illinois

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

WASHINGTON – A Texas man was indicted on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Peoria, Illinois, on charges related to the production of child pornography involving four minor victims, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Hansen of the Central District of Illinois. 

Mark P. Barnwell, 35 of Whitehouse, Texas, was indicted on four counts of production of child pornography and one count of being required to register as a sex offender while committing a sex-related felony involving a minor.  Barnwell was initially arrested on Oct. 3, in Whitehouse, Texas on a federal criminal complaint.

According to the indictment, from September 2016 through November 2016, Barnwell employed, used, persuaded, coerced, and enticed four different minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct.  Further, according to the Indictment, Barnwell committed a felony offense involving a minor while being required to register as a sex offender. 

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, the Peoria Police Department and the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.  The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald Hanna and Katherine Legge of the Central District of Illinois and Trial Attorney William Grady of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). 

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

Updated October 19, 2017

Project Safe Childhood