PEORIA, Ill. – A federal jury deliberated nearly 90 minutes before dismissing a guilty verdict against Joseph Allen Wilcher, 40, of the 1800 block of Western Drive SW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Oct. 6, 2021, attempting to lure a minor and one-off Travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual behavior. Wilcher’s conviction is scheduled for February 3, 2022 before U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid in federal court in Peoria, Illinois.
During the two-day testimony this week, the government presented evidence showing that Wilcher arranged a meeting with someone he believed to be a 15-year-old minor for sexual activity on the MeetMe dating application. Additional evidence indicated that Wilcher eventually traveled from Cedar Rapids to Rock Island, Illinois to meet the person and engage in illegal sexual behavior.
Wilcher faces a legal sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment for attempting to mislead a minor charge, and up to 30 years in prison for the traveler accused of illicit sexual behavior. After the jury’s verdict, Wilcher was taken into the care of the US marshals.
“This guilty verdict shows both the ongoing threat to our children and that law enforcement and prosecutors are working together to address the threat,” said acting US Attorney Doug Quivey. “We will all continue to work together to protect our children.”
“Children can easily be lured into the clutches of those who want to betray and exploit them online,” said David Nanz, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Division. “The FBI is committed to flushing out sex offenders with a sense of urgency to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children. If you suspect someone is having inappropriate contact with a minor, report this to law enforcement immediately. “
Wilcher was arrested in November 2020 as part of an operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Division, in Rock Island, Illinois. The operation was carried out with assistance from the Rock Island Police Department, Macomb Police Department, Illinois State Police, East Moline Police Department, Galesburg Police Department, Davenport Police Department, and the Knox County Sherriff’s Office. US assistant attorneys Grant Hodges and Jennifer Mathew represented the government in court.
The case was filed under Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide Justice Department initiative to tackle the epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Led by U.S. attorneys and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood provides state, state, and local resources to better locate people who exploit children online make, arrest and prosecute victims identify and rescue. For more information on Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Ready Illinois provides homeland security information and planning tips for emergencies and disasters.