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Bullitt man guilty of sex act with minor

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 LOUISVILLE – United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. today announced the guilty plea of a Bullitt County, Kentucky, man before District Judge David J. Hale, in United States District Court, on December 15, 2015, to a charge of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.

According to the plea agreement, and information presented in court, Jonathen Ray Howerton, 25, admitted to attempting to entice a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, on July 5, 2016. According to the agreement, Howerton was arrested without incident in the parking lot of a movie theater in eastern Jefferson County, which was the agreed upon location, to meet the 15-year-old. Unbeknownst to him, Howerton had been communicating with an Undercover agent from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigation, who had assumed the persona of a 15-year-old female from Louisville. The contact began on June 22, 2016, when the UC used the online chat program, Omegle, to locate potential suspects who were attempting to meet underage children for sexual contact.

Following his arrest, and being advised of his constitutional rights, Howerton admitted that he had come to the location after meeting a 15-year-old girl online.   He stated that he had communicated with the girl on both Omegle and KIK and that the smartphone on the front seat of his truck was the device he had used to communicate.  Howerton confirmed that he intended to engage in sexual activity with the girl but qualified “only if she wanted to.”  He acknowledged that 15 was younger than the age of consent in Kentucky.

Howerton remains in the custody of the United States Marshal Service awaiting sentencing before Judge Hale at a later time. The United States will ask for a ten year prison sentence followed by a ten year period of supervised release.

Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless is prosecuting the case.  The Kentucky Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations conducted the investigation.

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 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 internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."