Following a three day trial in federal court, a jury found Thomas Monroe Lee, 40, of Gadsden, Alabama, guilty of using the Internet in an attempt to persuade, induce, and entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Evidence presented during trial proved that, on June 14, 2012, law enforcement officers posed as a 14-year-old boy named Skylar and responded to an advertisement entitled "Last call!!!! – m4m – 1840 (PCB/Laguna beach)," which had been posted under the "Casual Encounters" link on Craigslist. Over the next 48 hours, Lee engaged in email chats and text messages with Skylar that were sexual in nature. Subsequently, Lee drove to a location where he had arranged to meet Skylar and transport him back to his residence to engage in sexual activity. Once Lee arrived at the location, officers from various law enforcement agencies arrested him for attempted online enticement of a child.
As a result of the guilty verdict, Lee faces a sentence of ten years to life in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, not less than five years and up to a life term of supervised release, and a $100 special monetary assessment.
In announcing the verdict, Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, credited the success of this prosecution to the joint efforts of the agencies participating in the North Florida ICAC, particularly U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Marshals Service, Bay County Sheriff's Office, Walton County Sheriff's Office, and the Gainesville Police Department. Ms. Marsh said, "The safety and well-being of our children is a top priority for the Department of Justice. Our office will continue to aggressively prosecute these cases to protect the community and children, who are our most innocent victims. Great praise is deserved by all of our law enforcement partners who contributed to the success of this investigation."
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorney's 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 exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Risinger.