Local law enforcement helps in federal case to convict man for traveling to have sex with a minor
JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Several local law enforcement agencies worked together to arrest an Alabama man for traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor back in May 2021, now he has been convicted.
Jason Earl Kirkland, 44, of Cottondale, AL was convicted for trying to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity, as well as traveling to Florida to engage in that sexual activity.
In May 2021, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office joined the Panama City Beach Police Department, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Homeland Security in an online investigation. The agencies were working undercover to identify people who are looking to engage in sexual activity with minors.
During the investigation, officials said they learned that Kirkland was using the username “Mark from Cottonwood” and said he was 41 years old. He sent a private message to an undercover profile that was claiming to be a 14-year-old girl from Marianna, FL.
An undercover officer exchanged several messages with Kirkland, which led to communicating by text message and voice. According to officials, the conversation evolved into discussing sexual activity before Kirkland sent a nude photo of himself via text.
Kirkland traveled across state lines to Marianna to meet with the “minor” and then drive her back to his home in Alabama to engage in sexual activity. When he arrived at the meeting spot, he was taken into custody.
Kirkland is scheduled for sentencing on October 7 at 1:30 p.m., at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum of life in prison, for the attempted enticement charge, and will face a maximum of 30 years in prison for the charge of interstate travel to have sex with a minor.
Local officials want to remind guardians to keep an eye on their children’s internet and phone usage, and to explain online dangers.
“I want everyone to not take this lightly and to remember there are people who seek to take advantage of our youth and we must do everything we can to keep them from doing so,” Jackson County Sheriff Donald Edenfield said.
Copyright 2022 WJHG. All rights reserved.