Canton Man Sentenced to 5 years in Prison for Solicitation of an Obscene Visual Depiction of a Minor

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

PEORIA, Ill. – A Canton, Illinois, man, Joseph M. Graham, 29, of the 500 block of Baxter Court, was sentenced on February 24, 2022, to 60 months imprisonment, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, for soliciting an obscene visual depiction of a minor.

U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid heard the case. Graham was indicted in January 2020 and pleaded guilty in October 2021.

During the change-of-plea hearing, the government presented evidence that Graham used an online application to request sexually explicit images of an individual whom he believed to be eight years old. In December 2019, Graham initiated messages with an individual on a mobile application. During messaging conversations that took place over several weeks, Graham believed that he was communicating with the father of an eight-year-old boy. Graham expressed interest in engaging in sex acts with the child and indicated that he wanted to be the child’s boyfriend. Graham requested sexually explicit images in December 2020. Graham also arranged to meet with the child and his father and, in January 2020, traveled to a coffee shop on N. Prospect Road, in Peoria, Illinois, where he was taken into custody by federal agents. Graham agreed to speak with agents and admitted that he was the person conversing with the individual he believed to be the father of an eight-year-old boy.

“The Department of Justice is committed to the safety and well-being of children and will continue to aggressively identify, investigate, and prosecute online sexual predators,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Hanna.

“The FBI is committed to investigating crimes against children with a sense of urgency to protect every child from the devastating and life-long impact of online victimization.” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “The FBI, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, will continue to work with unwavering dedication to ensure that criminals like Graham are investigated and arrested.”

The statutory penalties for solicitation of an obscene visual depiction of a minor are five to 20 years imprisonment, a maximum life term of supervised release, and a maximum $250,000 fine.

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The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Springfield Division with assistance from the Peoria Police Department and Illinois State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hanna and Paul B. Morris represented the government in the prosecution.
The case against Graham 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.