Springdale Man Sentenced To 50 Years in Federal Prison for Multiple Child Sexual Abuse Offenses
FAYETTEVILLE – Matthew Ray Lawson, 34, was sentenced today to 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole and ordered to pay $30,000.00 collectively in fines and restitution on three counts of Possession of Child Pornography, four counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse in Indian Country, one count of Lewd Acts with a Child in Indian Country and one count of Production of Child Pornography. The Honorable Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.
According to court documents, in September of 2019, the Springdale Police Department was contacted by employees of a local towing company, who stated that a vehicle belonging to Lawson was impounded and a thumb drive located therein appeared to contain child sexual abuse images. A subsequent investigation by both the Springdale Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations, Fayetteville Division, led to the execution of a search warrant on Lawson’s Springdale residence and the confiscation of multiple electronic devices, including a laptop computer. A forensic examination conducted by Homeland Security of Lawson’s laptop computer revealed approximately 900 videos and over 240 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Included within these images, were multiple videos of Lawson, himself, sexually abusing an approximately 6-year-old male. Homeland Security ultimately identified the minor male, who was determined to reside with his family outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. An investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, Tulsa Division, revealed that Lawson had previously resided with the minor victim’s family when he produced the child sexual abuse images, and, during the same timeframe, sexually abused an approximately 3-year-old female.
Lawson was initially charged in federal court in the Western District of Arkansas with two (2) Counts of Possession of Child Pornography. He was separately charged in federal court in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, with multiple offenses related to the sexual abuse of the two minor victims. In June of 2021, the Oklahoma charges pending against Lawson were transferred to Arkansas and, thereafter, Lawson entered guilty pleas to all charges pending against him in each respective state.
"This sentence accurately reflects the serious nature of this particularly heinous crime,” said David Clay Fowlkes United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. “It is our sincere hope that this sentence sends an important message to those who would seek to engage in this sort of criminal conduct: our office will continue to aggressively pursue cases against individuals who would seek to exploit and abuse children in the Western District of Arkansas and elsewhere.”
“The successful prosecution of the defendant in this case is a testament to the cooperation of state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors,” said Christopher J. Wilson, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. “The actions of the defendant were detestable, and I am hopeful the sentence imposed today will send a clear, resounding message that sexually assaulting and exploiting children is intolerable and will result in substantial punishment.”
“This lengthy sentence is a testament to the repugnant nature of child exploitation crimes, particularly the production of child pornography which only perpetuates the trauma endured by victims,” said David Denton, Special Agent in Charge, HSI New Orleans. “Our hope is that this sentence sends a message that our HSI agents will aggressively pursue anyone who attempts to prey on our nation’s vulnerable children, as well as serve as a starting point to the healing process for the victims and their families.”
The Springdale Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Fayetteville, Arkansas Division, and Homeland Security Investigations, Tulsa, Oklahoma Division, investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah McAmis prosecuted the case for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
This case was prosecuted 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 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 www.justice.gov/psc.