Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the arrest and filing of a criminal complaint charging Eric James Templeton (31, St. Petersburg) with attempted online enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity. If convicted, Templeton faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison and a potential life term of supervised release.
According to the complaint, from May 19 through May 21, 2020, Templeton engaged in chats, through an online site and through text messaging, with an individual he believed to be the mother of a five-year-old female child. On multiple occasions during those conversations, Templeton indicated to the “mother,” actually an undercover Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent, his desire to engage in sexual activity with the minor “child.” On May 21, 2020, Templeton asked to meet the “mother,” and her five-year-old “child” for that purpose. Templeton arrived at the agreed upon time and location and was subsequently arrested. A search of Templeton’s person uncovered a bottle of personal lubricant and two lollipops.
A criminal complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin Claire Favorit.
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.justice.gov/psc.