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Press Release

Former Barry County Man Sentenced to 17 Years for Traveling to Tennessee for Illicit Sex with a Minor

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

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A former Barry County, Mo., man has been sentenced in federal court for traveling from Missouri to Tennessee to engage in an illicit sexual relationship with a 15-year-old victim, who became pregnant and bore his child.

Michael Douglas Peterson, 35, of Morristown, Tenn., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, to 17 years in federal prison without parole.

On April 25, 2018, Peterson pleaded guilty to traveling across state lines to engage in illicit sexual activity.

Peterson admitted that he moved from Missouri to Tennessee in June 2014 because the child victim, who was then 15 years old, moved to Tennessee. Peterson lived with the child victim and her mother and helped to pay for rent and groceries. Peterson engaged in illicit sexual conduct with the child victim, who became pregnant and gave birth to their child on Feb. 26, 2015.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.

Project Safe Childhood
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 December 10, 2018

Project Safe Childhood