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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Jersey Man Sentenced To Ten Years In Prison For Sexual Offense With A Minor

Fort Smith, Arkansas - Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Robert Joseph Butler, age 27, of Clayton, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release for each count of Transporting a Minor in Interstate Commerce with the Intent to Engage in Sexual Activity and Sexual Assault. The sentences will run concurrent with each other. The Honorable P.K. Holmes III in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith presided over the sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “There is no higher priority in our office than cases involving crimes against children. The AMBER Alert system, which Arkansas implemented in 2001, was a critical instrument in the successful recovery of this young victim, as were the efforts of our partnering agencies in the investigation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to identifying and prosecuting those who commit federal crimes targeting children, including those like the defendant who seek to contact children over the internet for sexual purposes.”

Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown stated, “Fortunately, this case had a good ending. During the investigation it was discovered that the abductor had hidden out in rural Crawford County and disguised the stolen car by painting it a different color because of the AMBER Alerts. This signifies the importance and success of the AMBER Alert System. I commend the Deputy U.S. Marshals and the Sheriff Deputies who were able to locate the victim and apprehend her abductor, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for presenting a solid case of which brought the abductor to this sentencing date.”

“FBI Arkansas commends the work by the U.S. Marshal Service, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, rescuing this child, apprehending the subject, and prosecuting this offense,” said David T. Resch, Special Agent in Charge at the Little Rock Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Our children are targeted each day, but Arkansans should be proud of the consistent cooperation exhibited as we all work to protect them.”

According to court records, Butler communicated with the fourteen-year-old minor victim through social media and text messaging for over a year before meeting her for the first time at her home in New Mexico in late 2013. The two remained in contact, and on March 31, 2014, Butler made arrangements to meet the minor victim in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the pre-arranged meeting, the two decided to leave town and began traveling through Texas, Oklahoma, and ultimately the Western District of Arkansas. During their travels, Butler engaged in sexual activity with the minor. On April 17, 2014, deputies with the United States Marshal Service and Crawford County Sheriff’s Office located Butler and the minor victim in Fort Smith, Arkansas and placed Butler under arrest. Later, Butler admitted to an FBI Special Agent that he knew the minor was fourteen years old when he met her. Butler pleaded guilty to the charges on August 29, 2014.

This case was investigated by the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the FBI. Assistant U. S. Attorney Kyra Jenner prosecuted the case for the United States.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and their Criminal Division Child Exploitation and Obscenity Sections (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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Related court documents may be found on Public Access to Electronic Records Website

Updated April 10, 2015