Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Man Sentenced to 120 Months in Prison for Attempted Enticement of a Minor and Traveling with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – A Cedar Rapids, Iowa, man, Joseph Allen Wilcher,  40, of the 1800 block of Western Drive, was sentenced on February 24, 2022, to 120 months in prison for attempted enticement of a minor and a concurrent 120 months in prison for travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity. Wilcher was also sentenced to concurrent ten-year terms of supervised release for each offense.

Wilcher was found guilty following a jury trial in October 2021 where, the government presented evidence establishing that Wilcher arranged to meet an individual he believed to be a 15-year-old minor for sexual activity on an online dating application. Further evidence showed that Wilcher ultimately traveled from Cedar Rapids to Rock Island, Illinois, to meet the individual and to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid commented on the serious nature of the offense conduct and the distance Wilcher traveled to meet a minor for sex.

The statutory penalties for the attempted enticement charge include a minimum of 10 years and maximum life term of imprisonment. The statutory penalties for the traveling charge include a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment.

“This sentence sends a message to our community that this behavior is unacceptable and comes at a great cost to those seeking to target children,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “We all must work together to keep our children safe. And that is exactly what our law enforcement agencies did through their successful investigation of the offense in this case.” 

Wilcher was arrested in November of 2020 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Division, operation conducted in Rock Island, Illinois. The operation was conducted with the assistance of the Rock Island Police Department, the Macomb Police Department, the Illinois State Police, the East Moline Police Department, the Galesburg Police Department, the Davenport Police Department, and the Knox County Sherriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant Hodges and Jennifer Mathew represented the government at trial.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.