JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Jefferson City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to the attempted sex trafficking of a child as the result of an undercover investigation in which he thought he was meeting a 12-year-old victim for illicit sex.
Jeremy Ryan Bappert, 30, of Jefferson City, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to the charge contained in a Nov. 7, 2013, federal indictment.
According to today’s plea agreement, a confidential informant received a text from Bappert and notified the Columbia, Mo., Police Department. Bappert asked the confidential informant to find a young girl, “around 9 to 11 years old,” and asked what $100 would get him. A police detective instructed the informant to send a response to Bappert that a person named “Julie” had a child available.
The police detective assumed the role of “Julie” and had a number of text conversations with Bappert. Bappert asked how old the child would be and said he was looking for “very young.” The undercover detective told Bappert that “Julie’s” daughter was 12 years old.
On July 19, 2013, Bappert sent a text to “Julie” seeking to arrange a meeting. He offered to pay $150 and provide a gram of hash in exchange for meeting at a hotel room in Jefferson City. Bappert, whose driver’s license was suspended, wasn’t able to find a ride on that day. He sent another text on July 24, 2013, saying that he had arranged a ride to Columbia but would have to pay $50 to the driver. He offered to pay “Julie” $100 but promised to pay $200 the next time. He also offered to bring “Julie” a gram of hash.
On July 25, 2013, Bappert agreed to meet at a restaurant in Columbia. When Bappert entered the restaurant, he was arrested. Investigators searched Bappert’s cell phone and recovered 246 images and six videos of child pornography.
Under federal statutes, Bappert is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. 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. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the FBI, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia, Mo., Police Department.
Project Safe ChildhoodThis 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."