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Justice News

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

Louisville Man Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison For Violating Federal Child Exploitation Laws

                  LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States District Judge David J. Hale sentenced Robert L. Tomlinson, 56, to 10 years in prison followed by a 15-year term of Supervised Release, announced United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman. There is no parole in the federal system.  Tomlinson remains in the custody of the United States Marshals Service.

                  Tomlinson previously admitted to online communications with a person he believed to be a 15-year-old girl for the purpose of meeting her to engage in sexual conduct.  According to the Plea Agreement and other Court records, law enforcement officials became aware of Tomlinson’s criminal conduct through an online undercover operation.  While authorized by the Attorney General to conduct undercover operations within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, an investigator with the Kentucky Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations conducted such an operation on March 14, 2017.   That day, the investigator responded to a Craigslist ad posted in the Louisville personals section.  The investigator responded to the ad over the Craigslist server.  He did so in an undercover persona of a 15-year-old female (15YO) living in Louisville, Kentucky.

                  The person who posted the ad (later determined to be Tomlinson), responded back the same date.  When asked by Tomlinson for the undercover persona’s age, the investigator responded “15.” The conversations lasted several weeks over text message and email. On April 1, 2017, the investigator agreed to Tomlinson’s request to meet.

                  On April 5, 2017, investigators watched Tomlinson arrive at the agreed upon location.  Law enforcement officials approached Tomlinson’s vehicle, removed him, and located an LG model 550 smart phone in his possession.  The investigator observed the screen was unlocked and that the ongoing conversation with the investigator was open. Later forensic examination of the phone confirmed it was the device Tomlinson had used for communicating with the investigator.

                  Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless prosecuted the case.  The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office – Department of Criminal Investigations conducted the investigation with support from the United States Secret Service.


                  This case 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."


Project Safe Childhood
Updated June 11, 2018