ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Cedar Rapids, Iowa man Joseph Allen Wilcher, 40, of the 1800 block of Western Drive, was sentenced Feb. 24, 2022, to 120 months in prison for attempting to induce a minor and a contestant 120 months in prison for traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual activity. Wilcher also received concurrent sentences of ten years of supervised release for each offence.
Wilcher was found guilty following a jury trial in October 2021 where, the government presented evidence establishing that Wilcher arranged to meet a person he believed to be a 15-year-old minor for sexual activity on an online dating app. Further evidence showed that Wilcher eventually traveled from Cedar Rapids to Rock Island, Illinois to meet the individual and engage in illicit sexual conduct.
During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid commented on the seriousness of the offense and how far Wilcher traveled to meet a minor for sexual purposes.
The legal penalties for the attempted incitement charge include a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Legal penalties for travel expenses include a maximum legal penalty of 30 years imprisonment.
“This sentence sends a message to our community that this behavior is unacceptable and comes at a high cost to those who seek to target children,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “We all need to work together to keep our children safe. And that’s exactly what our law enforcement has done through their successful investigation of the offense in this case.”
Wilcher was arrested in November 2020 in connection with an operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Division, conducted in Rock Island, Illinois. The operation was conducted with the assistance of the Rock Island Police Department, Macomb Police Department, Illinois State Police, East Moline Police Department, of Galesburg, the Davenport Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant Hodges and Jennifer Mathew represented the government at trial.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide Justice Department initiative to address the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood brings together 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.