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Justice News

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

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ohio Man Convicted Of Online Solicitation Of A Child

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Harley Michael Peterson, 23, has admitted he used a telephone and a computer connected to the Internet to coerce and entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Between April 1, and Aug. 4, 2012, Peterson admitted be began communicating with a child he knew to be 15 years of age. He met the child online and their contact primarily occurred on a social networking website and an online computer gaming community website. The communications eventually progressed to telephone calls. 

Peterson and the child chatted explicitly about his desire to engage in sexual activities with the child who clearly identified herself as a 15-year-old. As the communications continued, Peterson agreed to travel from his home in Ohio to Corpus Christi to engage in sexual activity with the child.

On Aug. 3, 2012, the child was reported as a runaway by relatives. Through examination of her online activities, relatives were able to determine her whereabouts and those of Peterson, who was subsequently arrested in Corpus Christi.

Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey accepted the guilty plea and has set sentencing on Dec. 16, 2013, at 4:45 p.m. At that time, Peterson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a possibility of life imprisonment as well as a $250,000 fine. He will remain in custody pending that hearing.

Homeland Security Investigations and Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force ICAC investigated. 

Assistant United States Attorney Lance Duke is prosecuting the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 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 April 30, 2015