A Louisville sex offender has been convicted of child exploitation by a federal jury, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee Frances M. Hamilton III announced in a Thursday press release.
The jury Wednesday convicted registered sex offender Tywan Montrease Sykes, 45, of “using a minor to produce child pornography, enticement of a minor for sex, committing those offenses while being required to register as a sex offender, and possession of child pornography,” the release states.
Sykes’ sentencing is scheduled for July 29. He is subject to 25 years up to life in prison.
The investigation started when Facebook informed the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that Sykes, through Facebook messages, was soliciting a 15-year-old girl for sex and child pornography, the release states.
NCMEC notified the Knoxville Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit, which contacted the local Department of Children’s Services “to help identify the girl and ensure her safety.”
Sykes was arrested within 48 hours after the girl was interviewed. His communications with the victim, as well as a search of his phone, were obtained through federal search warrants, revealing “substantial evidence” used at Sykes’ trial, the release states.
KPD officers designated as Homeland Security Investigations Task Force officers led the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew T. Morris and Gretchen Mohr represented the United States, and U.S. Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee Thomas A. Varlan presided over the trial.
It was the first federal jury trial for the Eastern District of Tennessee since the court’s order suspending jury trials because of COVID-19 ended.
”This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice,” the release states.
”Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC 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 PSC, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.”