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Press Release

Rineyville Man Sentenced To 10 Years In Federal Prison After Being Caught During Sting Operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KY. – Melvin Dowell, 55, previously pled guilty before United States District Judge David J. Hale for attempted online enticement and transfer of obscene material to a minor, announced Acting United States Attorney Michael A. Bennett.  Yesterday, Judge Hale sentenced Dowell to 10 years in prison followed by a 10-year term of Supervised Release, ordered payment of a $5,000 Special Penalty Assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, and imposed a $12,000 fine. Dowell will be required to register as a sex offender.

“Outstanding effort by AUSA Lawless and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners on a successful investigation and prosecution,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bennett. “I am grateful for their dedication and the work they do to protect the children of the Commonwealth from sexual exploitation and abuse.” 

“This case reminds us that predators will use any means necessary to exploit children, and it’s important for parents and caregivers to have conversations with their children about online safety,” said Attorney General Cameron.  “I appreciate the work of our Department of Criminal Investigations and our law enforcement partners in identifying and stopping this predator, and I am grateful to Acting U.S. Attorney Bennett and his team for prosecuting the case.”

According to the Plea Agreement, on August 14, 2019, a Detective with the Kentucky Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations posed as a 15-year-old girl. That same day, an unknown subject (later identified as Dowell), reached out to the UC. The two communicated over e-mail and eventually text message.  Dowell directed the conversations to a sexual nature. He requested “naked” images of the UC, requested details about her sexual history, sent sexually explicit images of himself, and requested to meet the girl to engage in sex acts.

On August 30, 2019, law enforcement officials agreed to meet Dowell at a predetermined location in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  Dowell continued to communicate with the UC and gave updates to his arrival time while in route.  At approximately 6:38 p.m., Dowell stated he had arrived at the location. At the same time, a red Ford Ranger pickup pulled into the driveway of the house where the two had agreed to meet. Dowell then got out of the truck and entered the residence where he was arrested.  A pat down search revealed that Dowell had two Skyn brand, non-latex condoms (as discussed during their communications).

After being advised of his constitutional rights, Dowell admitted that he had met a person online that stated they were a minor. He went on to say that he traveled to the location where he was arrested after discussing sex acts with her. He also admitted using the Internet to engage in the conversations via his cell phone. Dowell stated that his cell phones were inside the truck he had driven to the location.  Search of the phones under the authority of a search warrant revealed the communications between Dowell and the UC.

Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless prosecuted the case.  The joint investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service and Kentucky Attorney General’s Office with assistance from the Elizabethtown Police Department, United States Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).


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."

Updated April 9, 2021