A 34-year-old North Carolina man has been sentenced to life in federal prison without parole for the sexual exploitation of a Joplin child. David Lee Perkins of Winston-Salem, N.C. was found guilty in January of crossing state lines with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a child victim under the age of 12. Perkins had already pleaded guilty to two additional charges, and admitted that he used the child victim to produce child pornography and that he distributed child pornography.

Joplin Police Department

News release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri

Friday, January 19, 2018, SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a North Carolina man has been convicted of the sexual exploitation of a child in Joplin, Mo.

David Lee Perkins, 33, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was found guilty following a two-day bench trial before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool that concluded on Jan. 9, 2018. The court’s findings of fact, conclusions of law and adjudication of guilt was released on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.

The court found that Perkins crossed state lines into Missouri with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a child victim under the age of 12, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, from April 16, 2014, to Dec. 11, 2016.

Additionally, Perkins had already pleaded guilty on Jan. 3, 2018, to two additional counts contained in the federal indictment. Perkins admitted that he used the victim to produce child pornography and that he distributed child pornography.

Joplin police officers were dispatched to a local hotel where Perkins was staying on Dec. 11, 2016. A female acquaintance of Perkins told officers that she found several videos on an iPad of Perkins engaged in sexually explicit conduct with Jane Doe. Officers contacted Perkins in his hotel room and placed him under arrest.

Perkins told investigators he used his iPad and iPhone to photograph and create videos of the sexually explicit conduct he engaged in with Jane Doe in various hotels and motels in Joplin. Investigators found three video files on Perkins’s iPad. Perkins shared those images and videos of child pornography with at least one other person by attaching them to text messages.

Under federal statutes, Perkins is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, and the Newton, N.C., Police Department.

Project Safe Childhood

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."