Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle has sentenced Robert W. Rice (56, Westville, Illinois) to 10 years in federal prison for the attempted enticement of a minor and possession of child sexual abuse images. As a part of his sentence, Rice is also required to register as a sex offender. The Court also ordered Rice to serve a 10-year term of supervised release and to forfeit his cellphone, which was used in the commission of the offense. Rice had pleaded guilty on March 7, 2022.
According to court documents, from approximately May 2020 through June 9, 2020, Rice used his cellphone to communicate on an online social media application with an individual whom he thought was a 13-year-old girl. In reality, Rice was communicating with an undercover agent. In his communications, Rice sent images and videos depicting children being sexually abused and further engaged in sexually explicit conversation with the purported “child” in an attempt to entice the “child” into engaging in sexually explicit conduct. During the communications, Rice repeatedly asked the “child” to send photos and videos to his email. Rice also sent the “child” pictures of his face, his genitalia, and videos of him masturbating and child sex abuse images and videos to further his attempt to entice the “child.”
“The internet makes it easier for these predators to target and attempt to exploit children,” said HSI Tampa Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Silliman. “We will absolutely investigate those who try victimize our most vulnerable.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa M. Thelwell.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.justice.gov/psc.