An Arkansas man was sentenced to 18 years in prison for traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.
On August 12, 2021, Jerrell West, 32, of Forrest City, Arkansas was found guilty by jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He was sentenced by the Honorable Chief Judge Rodney Sippel.
According to the government’s evidence, the minor victim met West through an online application that allows users to utilize video chat and text communication. Over a period of multiple months, West communicated with the minor victim daily. Many of these conversations were friendly and causal in nature, ultimately leading to conversations that were sexual. In April 2020, West informed the minor victim that he wanted her to live with him and would drive to the Saint Louis area to pick her up. West traveled from Forrest City, Arkansas to the Saint Louis area to pick up the minor victim from her home. West then drove to a rest stop area approximately 60 miles away and sexually assaulted the minor victim. West then drove back to the minor victim’s home to drop her off. West was arrested in May 2020 and detained pending trial.
“A child who is sexually abused will be forced to deal with that trauma for life. We hope the 18-year sentence will empower the victim to see that 100% of the blame sits squarely on child predator Jerrell West,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis of the FBI St. Louis Division. “I commend Pagedale Police Department for notifying us immediately. Their quick action enabled agents to use a large number of advanced techniques to produce overwhelming and undeniable evidence against the perpetrator.”
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information visit the Project Safe Childhood website
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Dianna R. Collins and Assistant United States Attorney Colleen Lang led the prosecution team.