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Press Release

Effingham Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Attempted Sex Crimes Against a Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois
Lauren Barry, Public Affairs Officer

BENTON, Ill. –  A district judge sentenced an Effingham man to spend 10 years in federal prison after he admitted to soliciting sex online from a purported minor in exchange for money.

John S. Harmon, 65, pleaded guilty to attempted commercial sex trafficking of a minor and solicitation of child pornography.

“Thanks to the FBI’s proactive efforts in an undercover online investigation, another child predator was sentenced to spend a decade behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “We will continue to work together to apprehend these manipulative and dangerous offenders.”

The charges stemmed from an undercover investigation by an FBI agent who claimed to be a 15-year-old minor in an online discussion forum. According to court documents, Harmon began speaking to the undercover agent posing as a purported minor from May through June 2021. During conversations, he solicited the 15-year-old purported minor and an 11-year-old purported minor for sex in exchange for money. In addition, Harmon solicited nude images of both the purported minors.

“Our proactive efforts to protect children resulted in another offender being stripped of his ability to harm a member of our most vulnerable population,” said FBI Springfield Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “This sentence underscores the FBI’s unwavering dedication to investigate and arrest those who seek to harm our children.”

FBI Springfield Field Office led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey Bloodworth and David Sanders prosecuted the case on behalf of the Government.

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.

Updated February 22, 2024