ST. LOUIS – A man from Fenton, Missouri on Tuesday admitted soliciting nude pictures from an undercover St. Louis County police officer pretending to be a 16-year-old.
Robert L. Payne, 77, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White to a felony charge of solicitation of child pornography. Payne admitted that he repeatedly tried to talk to boys at Fenton City Park, 1215 Larkin Williams Road, and that his behavior sparked complaints to police.
St. Louis County Police spotted Payne at the park each day between March 1 and 4, 2021. On March 2nd, Payne reposition his vehicle in the park about eighteen times, including backing into a space to allow him to watch the Lindbergh High School boys’ lacrosse team practice. The next day Payne tried to engage about ten to twelve young males in conversation near the basketball courts.
On March 8, 2021, an officer pretending to be a 16-year-old played basketball at the park and then used a trashcan near Payne, who was sitting in his parked red 2003 Ford Ranger. Payne began talking to the officer, offered to perform oral sex on him and gave the officer his contact information.
Payne later contacted the officer and repeatedly offered to engage in sex acts with him before requesting a picture of the purported teen’s genitals.
Payne is scheduled to be sentenced in November. The crime carries a potential sentence of five to 20 years in prison.
As part of his plea, Payne admitted that in 2018, the Sunset Hills Police Department investigated him over allegations that he’d approached a 16-year-old male at Minnie Ha Ha Park and offered to perform oral sex on him. Payne later pleaded guilty to a harassment charge and was ordered to stay away from the park.
The case was investigated by the St. Louis County Police Department and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Project Safe Childhood 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 Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
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