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Press Release

Lansing Man Sentenced To Life For Sexual Exploitation Of Children

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

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Robert Duane Wicke, 60, from Lansing, Michigan was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to coerce and entice children to engage in sex acts.  He was also sentenced to 20 years’ custody on each of three counts of distributing child pornography videos and 20 years’ custody for possessing a collection of child pornography.  The sentences for the child pornography offenses will be served concurrently with the life sentence. 

Robert Duane Wicke

          U.S. District Judge Jane M. Beckering also ordered 10 years of supervised release should he be released early from custody. In sentencing Wicke to serve life in prison, Judge Beckering expressed her dismay at Wicke’s long history of sexually abusing children and the extraordinary risk he posed to children.  Judge Beckering described his “very very serious conduct” among some of the worst she had seen in her 14 years as a judge.   

          A special agent with the FBI was working undercover in a messaging application that is commonly used by individuals interested in sexually abusing children. The agent posed as a mother in California with 7-year-old and 9-year-old daughters.  Wicke sought out children to sexually abuse and wanted the mother to bring the girls to him so he could sexually assault them and train them to be sex slaves.  His chats with the mother were depraved and graphic.  He sent the mother videos of other children being abused and raped and wanted the videos to be shared with the 7-year-old and 9-year-old girls as part of a grooming effort to desensitize the children to sex. 

          On March 21, 2022, Wicke traveled from his home in Lansing to a hotel in Grand Rapids as part of his plan to fly the mother and children from California to Michigan.  Instead of meeting the mother and the victims, Wicke was greeted by federal agents.  A subsequent search of his digital devices disclosed his collection of child pornography. 

          U.S. Attorney Mark Totten stated, “Mr. Wicke’s depraved actions are beyond words. I am grateful for the FBI’s work to protect children. Today and every day we will hold child predators accountable.” 

          “Protecting children from dangerous child predators is a top priority for the FBI in Michigan and across the country,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Mr. Wicke is an example of how manipulative these criminals can be.  I commend the work of the special agents, deputies, police officers, and prosecutors who worked to make our children safer by ensuring he remains behind bars for the rest of his life.”

          This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor's offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following web site:  Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Mekaru, in cooperation with the FBI in San Francisco, Lansing, and Grand Rapids, and WEBCHEX – “West Michigan Based Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force,” a partnership of FBI, Michigan State Police, and local agencies dedicated to investigating offenses against children. 


Updated September 15, 2022

Project Safe Childhood