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Press Release

Missouri Man receives 50-year Sentence after Trial for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

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

BENTON, Ill. –   A Jefferson County, Missouri, man was sentenced to a total of 600 months in prison 
on Friday, February 25, 2022, after a federal jury found him guilty in October of 2021 for 
arranging to have sex 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.

“Serious crimes deserve serious punishment, and we are very satisfied with the 50-year sentence 
imposed  on  Earl  Rice.  Nothing  could  be  more  important  than  keeping  children  safe  from  
sex offenders,” said United States Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft.   “This case is another reminder 
for parents to be vigilant about their kids’ online activity and to monitor the apps on their 

“While this sentence ensures that Rice will never again subject another child to sexual abuse and 
exploitation, it will not erase the devastating and long-term impact for the victim,” said Special 
Agent in Charge David Nanz of the FBI Springfield Field Office. “The FBI remains steadfast in our 
dedication to identify, investigate and arrest those who seek to harm children. If you suspect a 
child  is  or  could  become  a  victim  of  a  sexual  predator,  don’t  hesitate  to  contact  
local  law enforcement or the FBI.”

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  i  ternet  safety  education,  
please  visit and click on the tab “resources.”

Updated March 2, 2022

Project Safe Childhood