Federal program targets online child predators
A man accused of having a sexual relationship with a girl he talked to online is now facing federal and state charges.
The federal charges against Joseph L. Hughes, 27, of St. Louis, include enticement of a minor and two counts of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. He allegedly went to unincorporated St. Clair County, near Belleville, twice in 2018 to meet her, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Illinois.
The St. Clair County State’s Attorney also charged Hughes in March with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of traveling across state lines to meet a minor.
A news release from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department at the time stated the girl was younger than 16. They allegedly communicated over the internet.
Hughes’ arraignment in federal court was Wednesday. He also goes by “Joe King,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s news release.
He faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison for the federal enticement charge. He could receive a sentence for as much as 30 years in prison on each of the federal travel counts.
As of Wednesday, Hughes’ trial was scheduled for July 2 in East St. Louis federal court.
The Belleville Police Department, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and St. Louis County Police Department investigated the case, along with the FBI.
More from the Southern District of Illinois
Also on Wednesday in federal court, an Olney man was sentenced and three men from Flora were charged, all on methamphetamine-related offenses.
Brian E. Jordan, 51, of Olney, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to charges that in 2018 he distributed meth and possessed meth with the intent to distribute it.
Ethan K. Doud, 28; Bradley A. Caudle, 30; and Justin A. Schofield, 37, all of Flora, are accused of conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of crystal meth or “ice” in Clay County and elsewhere, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The conspiracy allegedly operated from fall 2017 until late January 2019.
In addition to the conspiracy count, Doud faces a charge of possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crystal meth, and Schofield faces distribution and possession with the intent to distribute charges.