BENTON, Ill. – A Jefferson County, Missouri, man was sentenced to a total of 600 months in prison
on Friday, February 25, 2022, after a federal jury found him guilty in October of 2021 for
arranging to have sex with a minor, traveling to pick her up in Belleville, Illinois, and producing
sexually explicit images of her.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Earl G. Rice, Jr., 63, chatted online
via a dating application with a teenage girl. Rice quickly indicated his interest in
traveling to Belleville, Illinois, from Dittmer, Missouri, to meet the victim and engage in sexual
acts with her. On Valentine’s Day of 2018, Rice arrived with alcohol, condoms, and a candle to take
the victim to a nearby motel. Rice engaged in sexual acts with the victim and produced sexually
explicit images of the teen girl on his cell phone. Belleville Police Department apprehended Rice
at the scene of the crime.
“Serious crimes deserve serious punishment, and we are very satisfied with the 50-year sentence
imposed on Earl Rice. Nothing could be more important than keeping children safe from
sex offenders,” said United States Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft. “This case is another reminder
for parents to be vigilant about their kids’ online activity and to monitor the apps on their
“While this sentence ensures that Rice will never again subject another child to sexual abuse and
exploitation, it will not erase the devastating and long-term impact for the victim,” said Special
Agent in Charge David Nanz of the FBI Springfield Field Office. “The FBI remains steadfast in our
dedication to identify, investigate and arrest those who seek to harm children. If you suspect a
child is or could become a victim of a sexual predator, don’t hesitate to contact
local law enforcement or the FBI.”
Belleville Police Department conducted the investigation, along with support from the
Illinois State Police, and FBI-Springfield and Saint Louis Divisions.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ali Burns and Karelia Rajagopal.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006
by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation
and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local
resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to
identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood,
please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about i ternet safety education,
please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”