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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 7, 2014

Joplin Man Charged with Attempting to Entice a Minor for Sex

Project Safe Childhood

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Mo., man was charged in federal court today with attempting to entice a minor for illicit sexual activity.

Erik Leroy Clark, 35, of Joplin, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo. Clark remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014.

According to an affidavit filed in support of today’s criminal complaint, a Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department detective assumed an undercover identity and posted an advertisement on an online social networking Web site on July 14, 2014. The ad was titled “Looking for someone into incest/taboo things –w4m-40.” The ad included a narrative, which read: “Looking for someone who is practicing incest or is interested in incest. Mother daughter. No spammers put incest in subject line so I know you are serious. Disease free.”

Clark allegedly responded to the ad on July 20, 2014. According to the affidavit, the undercover detective told Clark that the ad was for someone to teach her 10-year-old daughter about sex. Very quickly, the affidavit says, Clark started suggesting a meeting and said he was willing to help, but that the 10-year old girl’s mother needed to be present.

In subsequent emails, according to the affidavit, Clark offered to engage in various sexual activities with the 10-year-old girl and suggested meetings on several occasions. The undercover detective repeatedly told Clark no to each meeting request, the affidavit says, but finally agreed to meet Clark at a park located in Joplin.

On Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, law enforcement officers identified Clark as he drove through the park, using a photo he had e-mailed to the undercover detective. Officers stopped Clark and arrested him. Upon initial contact, Clark immediately stated, “I knew it, I knew it, I knew I was going to get in trouble.” Officers searched his car and found a “Hello Kitty” ball, Durex tropical-flavored condoms and a bottle of Equate warming liquid personal lubricant.

Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

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."
Updated January 15, 2015