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Press Release

Three Defendants Plead Guilty in Federal Court to Sex Offenses Involving Minors

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

BECKLEY, W.Va. –  United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced that three different defendants appeared in federal court during the past week to plead guilty to sex offenses involving minors. 

“No child should ever have to endure these acts of human depravity. These are the most despicable of crimes because they are committed against the very people we are supposed to protect and nurture - our kids,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “My prosecutors work tirelessly with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the District to track down child predators and hold them accountable.”

On February  28, 2020, Joshua T. Haynes, 41, of Virginia, pled guilty to attempted sex trafficking of a minor.  Haynes admitted that between October 31 and November 2, 2019, he communicated with a man who stated he could provide a 14 or 15-year-old female to Haynes. Haynes agreed to pay the man money in exchange for sexual activity with the purported minor female. On November 2, 2019, Haynes met with the man in Sam Black Church, West Virginia, and paid him the agreed upon sum in order to have sex with the minor, at which time Haynes was placed under arrest. Haynes faces at least 10 years and up to life in federal prison when he is sentenced on July 20, 2020.

Also on February 28, 2020, Matthew David Lambert, 26, of Renick, West Virginia, pled guilty to attempting to receive child pornography.  Lambert admitted that from on October 31 to November 1, 2019, he communicated via a social messaging application with a minor he believed to be a 14-year-old girl he understood to be located in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Despite knowing her age, Lambert repeatedly asked her to send him sexually explicit photographs of herself. When the purported minor refused, they agreed that they would meet at a hotel in Lewisburg, West Virginia, to engage in sexual activity, and Lambert would record this sexual activity on his cell phone. On November 1, 2019, Lambert traveled to a hotel in Lewisburg in order to engage in sexual intercourse with the purported 14-year-old girl. Lambert faces at least 5 and up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on July 10, 2020.

On March 2, 2020, Joshua Kevin Laxton, 29, of Lashmeet, West Virginia, pled guilty to traveling in interstate commerce in order to engage in illicit sexual activity with a minor.  Laxton admitted that on September 14, 2019, he began communicating via text messages with a minor he believed to be a 14-year-old girl located in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Despite knowing her age, Laxton discussed meeting the minor to engage in sexual intercourse. On November 1, 2019, Laxton drove through Virginia to meet the purported minor at an arranged meeting location in Lewisburg in order to engage in sexual intercourse. Laxton faces up to 30 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on July 6, 2020.

Upon release from prison, all three defendants will be required to serve a term of supervised release of at least five years and up to life. They will also be required to register as sex offenders. The investigations were all conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s West Virginia Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which included task force officers from the West Virginia State Police, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, and the Ashland (Kentucky) Police Department, with additional assistance from the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is in charge of the prosecutions. United States District Judge Frank W. Volk presided over the plea hearings.

These cases were prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit


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Updated April 18, 2023

Project Safe Childhood