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Justice News

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

Thursday, August 9, 2018

North Carolina Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of Joplin Child

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A North Carolina man was sentenced in federal court today for the sexual exploitation of a child in Joplin, Mo. 

David Lee Perkins, 34, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to life in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Perkins to pay $6,325 in restitution to his victim.

On Jan. 18, 2018, Perkins was found guilty following a bench trial of crossing state lines into Missouri with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a child victim under the age of 12 from April 16, 2014, to Dec. 11, 2016. 

Additionally, Perkins had already pleaded guilty on Jan. 3, 2018, to two additional counts contained in the Jan. 18, 2017, federal indictment. Perkins admitted that he used the child victim to produce child pornography and that he distributed child pornography.

Joplin police officers were dispatched to a local hotel where Perkins was staying on Dec. 11, 2016. A female acquaintance of Perkins told officers that she found several videos on an iPad of Perkins engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the child victim. Officers contacted Perkins in his hotel room and placed him under arrest.

Perkins told investigators he used his iPad and iPhone to photograph and create videos of the sexually explicit conduct he engaged in with the child victim in various hotels and motels in Joplin. Investigators found three video files on Perkins’s iPad. Perkins shared those images and videos of child pornography with at least one other person by attaching them to text messages.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ami Harshad Miller and Nhan D. Nguyen. It was investigated by the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, and the Newton, N.C., Police Department.

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."

Project Safe Childhood
Updated August 9, 2018