BENTON, Ill. – A Jefferson County, Missouri, man now faces at least 15 years in prison after a federal jury found him guilty Monday of arranging to have sexual activity with a minor, traveling to pick her up in Belleville, and producing sexually explicit images of her.

Belleville Police Department conducted the investigation, along with support from the Illinois State Police, and FBI-Springfield and Saint Louis Divisions.

Get The Latest News!

Don't miss our top stories and need-to-know news everyday in your inbox.

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 on February 15, 2018, after he was described driving a “red hooptie.”

Article continues after sponsor message

Graphic images taken by Rice of the minor victim were shown to the jury during the five-day trial held at the federal courthouse in Benton, Illinois. Jurors also saw surveillance footage from the motel and heard testimony about DNA evidence connecting Rice to the crimes.

Sentencing has been scheduled for January 27, 2022, in front of United States District Judge Staci M. Yandle. Enticement of a Minor is punishable by at least 10 years in prison and up to life; Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct is punishable up to 30 years in prison, and Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Production of Child Pornography) is punishable by at least 15 years in prison and up to 30 years.

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.

Read More:

Mar 3, 2022 | Man Receives 50-year Sentence After Trial for Sexual Exploitation of Belleville Minor Female Mar 3, 2022

Aug 11, 2021 | Federal Jury Convicts Belleville Man of Attempting to Arrange Sex with Young Girl Aug 11, 2021

Apr 27, 2016 | Jury convicts Belleville man of producing child pornography Apr 27, 2016

Jun 10, 2021 | Jury Convicts Springfield Man for Attempted Child Enticement Jun 10, 2021

RBRadioLaunchGif"Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me" now playing on The Bridge, the Riverbend's only Today's Hits station. Check out Riverbender Radio Today and Listen to Win!