KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On December 20, 2018, Justin Kyle Phelps, 27, of Philadelphia, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Judge, to serve 300 months in federal prison for enticing and attempting to entice minors for sex and using a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography. Following his release from prison, Phelps will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 10 years and be required to register with the sex offender registry in any state in which he resides, works, or attends school.
In March 2017, Phelps was arrested when he travelled to Knoxville for the purpose of meeting a minor female for sex. The investigation revealed that he had victimized several minors between the ages of 12 and 15 years, including having sex with some of them and obtaining pornographic photographs of other minors taken at his direction. In July 2018, Phelps pleaded guilty to knowingly enticing and attempting to entice minors through social media for illegal sexual activity.
“Online predators are constantly looking for children to sexually abuse. This prosecution represents part of our efforts to work with law enforcement agencies to protect children from persons who seek to manipulate kids, from the shadows of the internet, for illegal sex and child pornography,” said J. Douglas Overbey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
This investigation was conducted by the Knoxville Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris represented the United States in court proceedings.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.