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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Jury Convicts Columbia Man of Enticing a Minor for Illicit Sex

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Columbia, Missouri, man was convicted at trial by a federal jury today of attempting to meet a law enforcement officer, posing online as a 14-year-old girl, for illegal sexual activity.

Darren Wade Lasley, 32, was found guilty of attempting to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

On June 14, 2017, Lasley responded by email to an online classified advertisement on Craigslist, which was placed as part of an undercover operation by a detective in the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force posing as a 14-year-old girl. In a series of email exchanges over the course of the next several days, Lasley described his plans for a sexual encounter with the decoy. Lasley proposed visiting her residence while her mother was at work or out of town.

On June 21, 2017, Lasley asked in an email if the decoy could sneak out of her house to meet him for a sexual rendezvous. Lasley was arrested when he arrived at the arranged location.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., deliberated for about an hour before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes, ending a trial that began Monday, Aug. 16.

Under federal statutes, Lasley is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley S. Turner and Aaron M. Maness. It was investigated by the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department 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 www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated August 18, 2021