PEORIA, Ill. – A federal grand jury has charged Charles A. Hewitt, 47, of Creve Coeur, Ill., with enticement and exploitation of minor girls to engage in sexual acts. The indictment, returned on Oct. 16, alleges that Hewitt engaged in the sexual exploitation of three minor victims. At the time of the alleged offenses, Hewitt was required to register as a sex offender. Arraignment is scheduled on Oct. 31, 2018.
Hewitt was previously arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint on Sept. 18, 2018. During a court appearance on Sept. 20, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley, Hewitt was ordered detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, at the time of the alleged offenses, from March 2017 through Sept. 18, 2018, Hewitt was required to register as a sex offender as a result of a 2014 conviction in Woodford county, Ill. Hewitt allegedly used the online social media application Skout.com to meet minors and solicit sexually explicit images from those minors. Hewitt allegedly used a false name, age, and profile pictures, appearing to others as a 15 year old male named “John.” According to the affidavit, Hewitt posed as John’s father, known as “Charlie” to message a minor victim and to discuss his plan to have sexual intercourse with her. It is further alleged in the complaint that Hewitt knew the minor victim was under the age of 18 years old and that he traveled from Peoria to a nearby town to meet a minor victim.
If convicted, as charged, the statutory maximum penalties for enticement (one count) and child sexual exploitation (two counts), as a repeat offender, is up to life in prison. The statutory penalty for committing the alleged offenses as a sex offender is 10 years in prison to be served consecutive to any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying crime.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Legge. The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The 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. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.