A Rineyville man, who previously pled guilty on federal charges of attempted online enticement and transfer of obscene material to a minor, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday followed by a 10-year term of supervised release.
Melvin Dowell, 55, also was ordered to make a $5,000 payment of a special penalty assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, and imposed a $12,000 fine.
He also will be required to register as a sex offender. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
According to a plea agreement, on Aug. 14, 2019, a detective with the Kentucky Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations posed as a 15-year-old girl. That same day, an unknown person, who authorities later identified as Dowell, reached out to the person.
The two communicated over email and eventually text message. Dowell directed the conversations to a sexual nature and he requested “naked” images of the girl, requested details about her sexual history, sent sexually explicit images of himself, and requested to meet the individual to engage in sex acts, according to a news release.
On Aug. 30, 2019, law-enforcement officials agreed to meet Dowell at a predetermined location in Elizabethtown. Dowell continued to communicate with the person he believed was an underage girl and gave updates to his arrival time while en route, authorities said.
At approximately 6:38 p.m., Dowell said he had arrived at the location. At the same time, a red Ford Ranger pickup pulled into the driveway of the house where the two had agreed to meet. Dowell then got out of the truck and entered the residence where he was arrested.
A pat down search revealed Dowell had two non-latex condoms as he had discussed during their communications.
After being advised of his constitutional rights, Dowell admitted he had met a person online that stated they were a minor. He went on to say he traveled to the location where he was arrested after discussing sex acts with her, according to the release.
He also admitted using the internet to engage in the conversations using his cellphone.
A search of his phones under the authority of a search warrant revealed the communications between Dowell and the individual.
“This case reminds us that predators will use any means necessary to exploit children, and it’s important for parents and caregivers to have conversations with their children about online safety,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in the release.
The joint investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and Kentucky Attorney General’s Office with assistance from the Elizabethtown Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.