By Jeff Lehr
A federal judge has assessed a Pierce City man 19 years and seven months in prison for attempted enticement of a minor for illicit sex.
U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr sentenced William Rohe, 55, to the term without parole at a hearing Tuesday in federal court in Springfield.
Rohe pleaded guilty to the charge May 22 in a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri. A second count of possession of child pornography contained in his indictment in September 2011 was dismissed as part of the deal.
The defendant was arrested after an investigation by Pierce City police and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.
Pierce City police had received information in April of last year that a 14-year-old boy was being repeatedly contacted by Rohe through Facebook on the Internet. The task force was contacted, and detectives received permission from the boy’s parents to take over communications through his Facebook page.
Ed Bailey, an Internet crimes detective with the task force, created a fictitious Facebook profile of a 13-year-old boy and sent a friend request to Rohe in an undercover sting operation. The defendant reportedly responded to the request and began sending messages to the fictitious minor.
Numerous text messages were exchanged, and Facebook chats and cellphone conversations were held between Rohe and the officer on Aug. 5 of last year, culminating in the arrangement of a meeting in Pierce City Park. Rohe specifically suggested that the fictitious minor meet him in the park to engage in sexual activity, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
When Rohe showed up at the designated location in a motorized wheelchair on Aug. 6, 2011, he was taken into custody by police. In a backpack Rohe took to the park, investigators found a towel and two pocketknives. A search of his residence and seizure of his computers led to the child pornography count in the indictment that was dropped when he agreed to plead guilty to the other charge.