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Press Release

Kentucky Man gets 15 Years for Attempted Sex Crimes with a Minor

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

BENTON, Ill. – A man from Benton, Kentucky was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in a U.S. District Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to traveling to Illinois to engage in sexual activity with a minor in May 2020.

Justin A. Wadsworth, 37, pled guilty to Attempted Enticement of a Minor and Attempted Commercial Sex Trafficking of a Child.

“Children are susceptible to sexual exploitation on the internet, which means investigative techniques must evolve where minors are most at-risk,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “Undercover investigations conducted on online platforms are vital to protecting minors from predators before acts can be committed, and I applaud this valiant effort to put Justin Wadsworth in prison for his crimes.”

“Increasingly, children are becoming victims of crimes committed online. With the spread of these crimes, the FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to stop sexual predators before they strike,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “This sentence delivers a clear message that those who seek to harm children will face significant prison time.”

According to court documents, Wadsworth responded to an online ad referencing incest and began unknowingly conversing with an undercover FBI agent on April 28, 2020. Transcripts of the conversations included Wadsworth explaining to the FBI that he was “active” with a close relative and the two discussed exchanging pictures.

When the FBI said they had an “active” 10-year-old girl, Wadsworth asked to see sexually-explicit photos and in return sent photos of females in various degrees of nudity. Wadsworth expressed interest in “young active fun,” and stated he would pay $1,000.

The pair arranged a meeting in Metropolis, Illinois, and when federal agents approached Wadsworth, he consented to an interview. Wadsworth claimed he had agreed to meet with the purported father to expose him and rescue the girl.

In addition to the 15-year sentence, Wadsworth received five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $500 in fines and $200 in special assessments.

The FBI-Springfield conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Bloodworth prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a national initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the increase in child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. 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 on Project Safe Childhood, visit

Updated January 11, 2023