Mississippi man pleads guilty to luring Columbia teen for illicit sex

Child Sex Crimes news graphic

A Bay Springs, Mississippi, man pleaded guilty in federal court to luring a 16-year-old victim in Columbia, Mo., to meet him at a hotel for illicit sexual activity.

Zachary Wes Buckley, 49, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to one count of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

By pleading guilty, Buckley admitted that he traveled to Columbia and rented a room at a local hotel, where he had sex with the child victim.

Buckley and the child victim began communicating in an online chat room in January 2023 and then moved their conversations to GoogleChat. The chats, which included sexually explicit conversations, photos, and videos, led to plans to meet in person. Buckley traveled to Columbia on Jan. 30, 2023, and met the child victim at a local park. He then drove to a Columbia hotel, where they had sex.

Under federal statutes, Buckley is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, and the Jasper County, Mississippi, Sheriff’s Department.