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Press Release

Jury Convicts Missouri Man for using Online Dating App to Lure a Teen Girl to have Sex and Produce Child Pornography

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

BENTON, Ill. –   A Jefferson County, Missouri, man is facing at least 15 years in prison after a 
federal jury found him guilty Monday of arranging to have sexual activity with a minor, traveling 
to pick her up in Belleville, Illinois, and producing sexually explicit images of her.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Earl G. Rice, Jr., 63, chatted online 
via  a  dating  application  with  a  teenage  girl.  Rice  quickly  indicated  his  interest  in  
traveling  to Belleville, Illinois, from Dittmer, Missouri, to meet the victim and engage in sexual 
acts with her. On Valentine’s Day of 2018, Rice arrived with alcohol, condoms, and a candle to take 
the victim to a nearby motel. Rice engaged in sexual acts with the victim and produced sexually 
explicit images of the teen girl on his cell phone. Belleville Police Department apprehended Rice 
at the scene of the crime on February 15, 2018, after he was described driving a “red hooptie”.

Graphic images taken by Rice of the minor victim were shown to the jury during the five-day trial 
held at the federal courthouse in Benton, Illinois. Jurors also saw surveillance footage from the 
motel and heard testimony about DNA evidence connecting Rice to the crimes.

Sentencing has been scheduled for January 27, 2022, in front of United States District Judge Staci
M. Yandle. Enticement of a Minor is punishable by at least 10 years in prison and up to life; 
Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct is punishable up to 30 years in prison; and 
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Production of Child Pornography) is punishable by at least 15 years 
in prison and up to 30 years.

Belleville  Police  Department  conducted  the  investigation,  along  with support  from  the  
Illinois State Police, and FBI-Springfield and Saint Louis Divisions.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ali Burns and Karelia Rajagopal.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 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  For  more  information  about  internet  safety  education,  
please  visit and click on the tab “resources.”

Updated October 20, 2021