Local sex offender sentenced to 34 years for coercing children online
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indianapolis man has been sentenced to 34 years in federal prison after he groomed aspiring young artists to send him sexually explicit images.
Jefferson Smith, 37, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Tanya Pratt after he pleaded guilty to criminal attempted sexual assault of a child in Colorado.
In the 2012 case, Smith attempted to have sex with a 14-year-old child who he met on an website where art enthusiasts collaborate.
Less than a year after he completed probation for the Colorado case, Smith began online conversations, using the same website, with a 14-year-old artist from South Dakota.
Smith claimed to be a professional photographer and attempted to get the child to send nude images of herself to him.
He was able to convince the child to send some images to him; however, before he could receive them, the child’s parents intercepted the communication and told Smith that they were going to notify the police.
Smith also communicated with a 15-year-old aspiring artist from California on this same website. Over a two-month period, the two exchanged online communications. He told the child that he loved her, that she was beautiful and that she was his girlfriend.
Smith enticed and coerced the child to send sexually explicit photos of herself, knowing that she was 15 years old. The communication ended when the child’s parents discovered the images and notified the police.
“While the Internet offers children the chance to advance and explore their talents, sadly, it also offers predators a hunting ground, where they will exploit the innocence and trust of these same children. When adults make the decision to manipulate, abuse, and sexually exploit children online, they should know this: we will investigate you, prosecute you, convict you and send you to federal prison for a very long time.” said US Attorney Josh Minkler.
This case was investigated by FBI, IMPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.