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Press Release

Montana Man Sentenced for Coercion & Enticement of a Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of North Dakota

BISMARCK – U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on May 6, 2014, Clayton L. Lakey, 34, Billings, Mont., pleaded guilty and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on a charge of coercion and enticement of a minor.

Defendant Lakey is the first defendant to be convicted and sentenced as a result of Operation Vigilant Guardian, a joint anti-Human Trafficking investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations aimed at “johns” trying to arrange sex with underage human trafficking victims online. The investigation resulted in the arrest on federal charges of 14 defendants in Williston and Dickinson, N.D., in October and November of 2013.

In Bismarck, United States Attorney Timothy Purdon said, “When I learned that 14 people had been arrested in western North Dakota on charges of using the Internet to try and arrange sexual encounters with underage girls, I was deeply troubled. Human trafficking is, sadly, a growing concern in North Dakota. The Operation Vigilant Guardian prosecutions show that the United States Attorney’s
Office, with our state and federal law enforcement partners, will move swiftly and powerfully to attack the demand that fuels this horrible crime.”

Judge Hovland sentenced Lakey to serve five years in federal prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. Lakey was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim’s Fund. Lakey must register as a sex offender.

Between Nov. 21 and Nov. 23, 2013, Lakey communicated by computer and text with an undercover law enforcement officer. Lakey arranged to meet at a hotel room in Dickinson, N.D., to engage in sexual activity with a person he thought would be a juvenile in exchange for money. When Lakey arrived at the hotel room, he was placed under arrest.

This investigation was conducted by the North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and was a cooperative effort of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.

This case was brought as a 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 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

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme prosecuted the case.

Updated February 9, 2015