Archive for Monday, April 21, 2008

Stepfather sentenced in teen sexual abuse case

April 21, 2008

— A Kansas City, Kan., man has been sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for promoting and participating in sexual acts with his teenage stepdaughter.

Jesse Herd, 36, Kansas City, Kan., was sentenced Monday to 262 months in federal prison Monday for transporting his stepdaughter across state lines for the purpose of unlawful sexual activities.

"The many years this defendant is going to spend in prison won't undo the damage that has been done," said U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. "But I hope this case will help draw attention to the fact that our children are subject to the most brutal kinds of crime, and we need a broad, community-based effort to keep them safe."

In his plea, Herd admitted the abuse started in 2004 when he began driving around with the 14-year-old girl looking for men who wanted to have sex with her. During the first incident, Herd checked the girl into a Kansas City, Mo., hotel and videotaped the girl having sex with three men.

Herd also admitted that at other times he transported the girl to a club in Missouri called Erotic City. He would take her downstairs to what was called an "orgy room," where the girl had sex with as many as 20 men at once. After each incident, Herd would have sex with the girl, too.

Witnesses told investigators that starting in 2005 they had seen Herd bring the girl to Erotic City, a so-called "juice bar" that does not serve alcohol, where he introduced her as his 18-year-old girlfriend. Witnesses said Herd set the girl up with other patrons of the club for encounters in the "orgy room" that included oral and vaginal sex. Witnesses said Herd brought the girl to the club several times a week during the past two years. They also reported that Herd kept the door open to allow others to watch when he had sex with the girl.

Witnesses also said that Herd took the girl to a private residence in Basehor, Kan., where she participated in sexual activities with multiple partners, including Herd.

In February, U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil rejected a plea agreement that would have sent Herd to prison for 18 years.

This case was being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit projectsafechildhood.gov.

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