06/11/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/11/2021 10:07
Jacksonville, Florida - Wayne Dale Epps, Jr. (36, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to using the internet to attempt to entice a 12-year-old child to engage in sexual activity. Epps faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison and a potential life term of supervised release. Epps was arrested on February 18, 2020, and remains in custody. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
According to court documents, on February 14, 2020, an undercover FBI agent who was posing online as the family member of a 12-year-old child was contacted by the user 'ksaber2040,' who was identified as Epps. The same undercover agent had previously engaged in online conversation with Epps in October 2019. Over the next several days, Epps and the agent engaged in online conversation in which Epps expressed his desire to meet the 12-year-old 'child.' Epps confirmed that he wanted to meet the 'child' for sex, stating '[t]his is a first for me I'm nervous but I've been wanting to try younger.' Epps provided the agent with graphic details about the sexual acts that he wished to perform on the 'child.' He offered to use a 'flavored condom' and requested pictures of the 'child.'
On February 18, 2020, Epps drove his vehicle to a prearranged location at a shopping center in Jacksonville to meet the 'child' for sex and was arrested by FBI agents. During an interview with law enforcement, Epps stated that it was 'possible that [he] would have followed through' and engaged in sex with the 12-year-old child, and further that he 'should have never made that decision.'
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Jacksonville. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
It is another case 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.