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Press Release

Lawtey Man Sentenced To Over 17 Years For Producing Files Of Minors Engaging In Sexually Explicit Conduct

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Dawson Ladale Crews (24, Lawtey) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce sexually explicit depictions. The court also ordered Crews to serve a 10-year term of supervised release and to register as a sex offender. Crews had pleaded guilty on March 8, 2022, and has been detained since his arrest on June 7, 2021.   

According to court documents, in July 2020, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) received information that a purported “16-year-old” male offered a 12-year-old minor victim (MV1) money in exchange for naked pictures and sexual acts. CCSO responded and interviewed MV1 and the reporting party. CCSO learned that MV1 met the male, later determined to be Crews, on a social media application. Crews falsely told MV1 that he was 16 years old and requested nude pictures of MV1, which MV1 sent. Crews later requested additional photographs and threatened to post the pictures MV1 had already sent if MV1 did not comply and send more. Crews offered MV1 $40 to digitally penetrate her vagina and $100 for oral sex.

CCSO and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) interviewed Crews at the Bradford County Jail, where he was detained on a separate charge of unlawful use of a communication device and transmission of harmful material to a minor. During the interview, Crews acknowledged having communicated with MV1 and said he is “more into underage girls than [girls his] own age.” He admitted being sexually attracted to 14–16-year-old girls and acknowledged that he offered MV1 money for nude images of herself. Crews admitted telling MV1 he was 15-16 years old and said he does so to keep underage girls talking.

Agents searched Crews’s phones, which revealed sexually explicit images of MV1 along with sexually explicit videos and images of a 16-year-old minor victim (MV2), who Crews had solicited over the same social media app. Crews used alias names to communicate with MV2 and other underage girls to threaten them and coerce them to send him sexually explicit photos.

“With the popularity of today’s social media applications, savvy and dangerous online predators are often able to entice impressionable children into a false sense of security,” said HSI Jacksonville Assistant Special Agent in Charge K. Jim Phillips. “This sentence is an unwavering example of how HSI and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office are committed to stop these deviant child molesters and hold them accountable.”         

This case was investigated by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly S. Karase.

This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated August 16, 2022

Project Safe Childhood