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Press Release

Millington Man Found Guilty of Running Teenage Sex Trafficking Ring

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

Memphis, TN – The trial of a 51-year-old Millington man responsible for trafficking multiple underage teens for sex culminated Tuesday evening. A jury unanimously decided that Michael Lilley was guilty of multiple counts of sex trafficking minors and other offenses. Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the verdict today.

"Michael Lilley coerced vulnerable, underage teens into sacrificing their bodies sexually for his own monetary gain," Stanton said. "Because a jury recognized how reprehensible his criminal actions were, Lilley will now be spending many years in a federal prison with no chance of parole."

From May to September 2013, Lilley had four minors engage in commercial sex acts out of his Millington home, backhouse, van, and other locations. The victims were 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old students, some of whom attended Brighton High School and Millington High School.

Lilley used text messages and explicit photos of the teens to market them to various males willing to pay for sex. In addition to trafficking the victims out of his residence and vehicle, Lilley transported the juveniles to local restaurants and homes where they would engage in commercial sex acts. Lilley collected the proceeds provided from patrons, splitting them with the victims.

According to court information, the teens were trafficked for as little as $60 per sexual endeavor. Text messages disclosing conversations between Lilley and clients regarding price ranges were displayed in court. The majority of the individuals who solicited sex lived in rural areas including Millington, Covington, and Atoka.

Physical evidence presented during trial included images of both used and unused condoms and condom wrappers throughout Lilley’s home and vehicle. Trafficking victims testified, recollecting their experiences working for Lilley while underage teens.

On the evening of Tuesday, September 22nd, a jury decided that Lilley was guilty of all counts. These counts include four counts of sex trafficking of a minor; one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; three counts of sexually exploiting a minor; one count of attempting to sexually exploit a minor; three counts of distributing visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and one count of possessing at least one digital storage device containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Lilley is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. on Thursday, December 17th. He faces a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum of life.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation Unit.

The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Ireland on the government’s behalf.

Updated December 18, 2015

Human Trafficking