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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Registered sex offender sentenced for coercing and enticing children online

Groomed aspiring young artists to send him explicit images

PRESS RELEASE

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today the sentencing of an Indianapolis man for his role in enticing two teen-aged girls to produce and send sexually explicit images. Jefferson Darin Smith, 37, Indianapolis, was sentenced to 408 months (34 years) of imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. In 2012, Smith pleaded guilty to Criminal Attempted Sexual Assault of a Child in Colorado. In that case, Smith attempted to have sexual contact with a 14-year-old child who he met on a website where artists and art enthusiasts collaborate.

Less than a year after Smith completed probation on the Colorado case, and using the same website from his previous case, Smith began online conversations with a 14-year-old artist from South Dakota. Smith claimed to be a professional photographer and attempted to get the child to send nude images of herself to him. Smith told the child that he was going to come to her town and that he would “cuddle the heck out of her.” Smith was able to convince this child to send some images to him; however, before he could receive explicit images, the child’s parents intercepted the communication and told Smith that they were going to notify the police.

Smith also communicated with a 15-year-old aspiring artist from California on this same website. This child posted images of her art as well as a profile photo of herself on the site. Smith initiated communication with the child, again posing as a professional photographer. Over a two-month period, the two exchanged online communications. Smith told the child that he loved her, that she was beautiful and that she was his girlfriend. Smith enticed and coerced the child to send sexually explicit photos of herself, knowing that she was 15 years old, and she eventually complied. The communication ended when the child’s parents discovered the images and notified the police.

“While the Internet offers children the chance to advance and explore their talents, sadly, it also offers predators a hunting ground, where they will exploit the innocence and trust of these same children. When adults make the decision to manipulate, abuse, and sexually exploit children online, they should know this: we will investigate you, prosecute you, convict you and send you to federal prison for a very long time.” said Minkler.

This case was investigated by FBI, IMPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.

"I am proud of the dedicated work and swift action of our agents and task force officers, as well as our law enforcement partners in California and South Dakota. This speaks to the phenomenal teamwork that exists between the FBI and our partner organizations, even across state lines," said W. Jay Abbott, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Indianapolis Division.

"Protecting our children will remain an important effort of enforcement for IMPD," said Chief Roach. "Individuals who prey on the most innocent and vulnerable, our children, we are confident will be held accountable for their actions."

According to Assistant United States Attorney Kristina Korobov who prosecuted this case for the government, Smith must serve 15 years of supervised release following his prison term.

Updated September 6, 2017