United States District Judge Rodney W. Sippel sentenced Nicholas M. Ray to a term of 15 years in federal prison. Ray previously pleaded guilty to attempting to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity and distribution of child pornography in a court appearance held in October 2021. In 2014, Ray was convicted in St. Charles County Circuit Court for possession of child pornography and served a three-year prison sentence.
According to the plea agreement, in March 2020, Ray contacted a profile on a social media platform that in reality was an undercover police detective. Over the course of several messages that occurred on the social media application, Ray informed the undercover detective he had a sexual interest in minors as young as eight years old. Ray also stated he was interested in child pornography and that he had previously received such material from others in online chat messages.
Between March 2020 and April 2020, Ray communicated several times with the undercover detective indicating his desire to meet up to engage in sex involving minors. On April 28, 2020, Ray using a separate online application sent the undercover detective a link containing several thousand videos of child pornography.
The undercover detective arranged a meeting with Ray at a local hotel under the guise of having a sexual relationship with a fictitious minor child. Ray was arrested on June 10, 2020, after arriving at the hotel.
This case was investigated by the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis FBI Child Exploitation Task Force.