U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan Monday sentenced Lonnie Lawrence Mercer, Jr. 42, Jacksonville, to 20 years in federal prison, and a 15-year term of supervised release, for possessing images of child sexual abuse. Mercer had pleaded guilty on July 5, 2020.
According to court records, Mercer possessed images of child sexual abuse on his cellular telephone depicting the lewd and lascivious display of the genitals of a child younger than 12 years of age. The child’s mother told law enforcement that she discovered 8-10 explicit photos on Mercer’s phone and confronted Mercer, after which a physical altercation ensued.
“This child predator took advantage of a young child at their most vulnerable time,” said HSI Jacksonville Assistant Special Agent in Charge K. Jim Phillips. “Thanks to HSI special agents and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, he will now be held accountable for his criminal actions.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly S. Karase.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.