KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On March 17, 2021, a federal jury convicted a registered sex offender, Tywan Montrease Sykes, 45, of Louisville, Tennessee, of using a minor to produce child pornography, enticement of a minor for sex, committing those offenses while being required to register as a sex offender, and possession of child pornography. As a result of the convictions, the defendant is subject to a prison sentence of 25 years up to life. Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, United States District Judge, presided over the trial. Sentencing is scheduled for July 29, 2021.
The investigation began after Facebook notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“NCMEC”) that Sykes was soliciting a 15-year-old girl for sex and child pornography with messages he sent to the girl through Facebook. NCMEC notified the Knoxville Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit (“KPD-ICAC”), which immediately contacted the local Department of Children’s Services office to help identify the girl and ensure her safety. KPD-ICAC arrested the defendant within 48 hours after the minor was interviewed. Federal search warrants were used to obtain the defendant’s and the victim’s Facebook communications and to search the defendant’s phone, which revealed substantial evidence that was used at trial to convict Sykes.
This was the first federal jury trial completed in the Eastern District of Tennessee since the expiration of the Court’s standing order suspending jury trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investigation was led by Knoxville Police Department officers who are designated as Task Force Officers with Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew T. Morris and Gretchen Mohr represented the United States in court.
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.