A North Carolina man was sentenced late Monday after traveling to Arkansas twice to have sex with a minor he enticed over the internet. United States District Court Judge Brian S. Miller sentenced Jonathan Berrier, 53, of Lexington, North Carolina, to 180 months in federal prison. Cody Hiland, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Little Rock Field Office, announced the sentencing.
In January 2017, Berrier reached out to a 13-year-old minor on Facebook, and they began talking through text messaging and telephone as well. The conversations became sexual in nature and continued through spring 2018. As the sexual content of their conversations increased, the defendant sent gifts and packages to the minor, which included cell phones.
The defendant travelled from North Carolina to Arkansas in February and March of 2018. On both occasions, he gave the minor a cell phone to communicate with him. Text messages retrieved from one of the phones revealed additional sexually explicit messages between the defendant and the minor. On both visits to Arkansas, the defendant had sexual intercourse with the minor.
“This defendant cultivated a long term, sexually explicit online relationship with a 13-year-old child, and he then leveraged that relationship to come into our state and sexually abuse her,” said U.S. Attorney Hiland. “Today’s 15-year sentence should serve as a warning to anyone who would take advantage of a minor online: if you come to Arkansas with the intent to sexually abuse a child, we will investigate and prosecute, and we will seek a lengthy sentence.”
Berrier was originally charged in a two-count indictment with one count of enticement of a minor and one count of travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct. The defendant pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor on September 25, 2020.
In addition to the prison term, Berrier was sentenced to ten years of supervised release following his imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay $2400 in restitution to the victim to assist in paying for counseling services. The investigation was conducted by the FBI.