Fernandina Beach Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Entice An 11-Year-Old To Engage In Sexual Activity
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the return of an indictment charging Stephen Farris Underwood (46, Tampa) with coercion and enticement, transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and traveling to meet a minor with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
According to the indictment, Underwood traveled from Tampa to Missouri to meet a minor with whom he had been corresponding online. Underwood picked up the minor from a Missouri shopping center and transported him to Underwood’s residence in Tampa. It was Underwood’s intent that he and the minor would live together as a couple in Florida. The parents of the minor, who was fifteen at the time, did not give Underwood permission to leave the state with their son.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of one or more federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Mountain View (Missouri) Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacie B. Harris.
This case was 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 United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 www.justice.gov/psc.