LITTLE ROCK — A Memphis man has been convicted of traveling to Conway with plans to have sex with a 12-year-old girl and her mother, who turned out to be an undercover male police officer.
Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that a federal jury found Michael Willins, 40, of Memphis, guilty of traveling with the purpose of having sex with a minor as well as attempting to entice a minor to engage in a sex act. In addition to making plans to have sex with the mother and child, Willins had asked the undercover officer to send nude photos of the hypothetical minor.
The jury returned their verdict Thursday evening after deliberating for less than an hour. United States District Judge Kristine Baker presided over the two-day trial, and Judge Baker will sentence Willins at a later date.
“This defendant not only had the desire to sexually abuse a child, but he also demonstrated his willingness to act on that depravity by driving three hours to follow through with his perverse plan,” stated U.S. Attorney Hiland. “This verdict shows that those who would prey upon children will be held accountable for their actions.”
Testimony during the trial established that in October 2016, an undercover officer with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Craigslist ad that claimed to be “looking for really taboo female.” The ad was posted by Michael Willins, who began communicating with the undercover officer, a male pretending to be a 33-year-old woman with a 12-year-old daughter. The two exchanged emails and messages in which Willins expressed his interest in having sex with the mother as well as the child.
On Oct. 13, 2016, Willins left his workplace in Memphis, filled a prescription for one Cialis pill, and drove to an apartment complex in Conway, Arkansas. When he arrived at what he believed was the home of the mother and daughter, he was met by Faulkner County Sheriff’s deputies. They found condoms in Willins’ pocket and a strap-on sex toy in his car, which he had discussed using in messages with the undercover officer.
The statutory penalty for enticement of a minor is not less than 10 years imprisonment with a possibility of up to life imprisonment. The statutory penalty for travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct is not more than 30 years imprisonment. Both offenses of conviction include a penalty of not more than a $250,000 fine and not less than five years of supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin Bryant and Joan Shipley.