Fayetteville, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Eric Butler, age 46, was sentenced today to 135 months in federal prison without the possibility of parole followed by 20 years of supervised release on one count of Attempted Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Illegal Sexual Activity. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks, United States District Judge, presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.
According to court records, in September of 2019, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Northwest Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Arkansas State Police, and several local law enforcement agencies conducted a joint operation to target online sexual predators in Northwest Arkansas. As part of the operation, undercover law enforcement investigators placed multiple advertisements on various online websites and mobile applications representing themselves to be minors.
On September 25, 2019, Butler responded to a Craigslist advertisement and began emailing and text messaging with an undercover law enforcement officer who was posing as a 13-year-old female. Over the course of two days, Butler exchanged several emails with the 13-year-old persona, in which he discussed having sexual intercourse with the purported minor. Butler arranged a meeting with the purported 13 year old for a sexual encounter and was arrested upon arriving at the predetermined meeting location.
Butler was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in August of 2020.
This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, and the Arkansas State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Amy Driver prosecuted the case for the United States.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, 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 CEOS, 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.