A Whitestown man walked all the way to Wisconsin to have sex with a teen girl, only to learn he’d actually been propositioning a sheriff’s deputy, according to federal authorities.

Tommy Lee Jenkins, 32, recently moved from Oshkosh, Wis., to Whitestown.

He pleaded guilty to four reduced charges of child abuse by recklessly causing harm in Wisconsin and was sentenced to four years of probation after being accused of repeated first-degree sexual assault of a child in 2011, according to news reports there.

Jenkins thought he was exchanging instant messages from Whitestown via social media with a Wisconsin girl named Kylee in early October, according to a complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Matthew Kreuger in Wisconsin.

Jenkins quickly demanded sexually explicit photographs, and began planning to have sex with her, according to federal authorities.

When she wouldn’t join him in Indiana, Jenkins walked 351 miles to visit Kylee, whom he believed to be a 14-year-old who lived with her mother in Neenah, Wis., near Lake Winnebago in the eastern half of the state, according to a probable cause affidavit.

He continued to engage Kylee, actually a Winnebago County, Wis., sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, in sexually explicit conversations along the way and sending selfie photos documenting his progress, authorities reported.

Winnebago County deputies and a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent arrested Jenkins when he arrived Oct. 10, Kreuger said in a news release. He was booked into the Winnebago County Jail.

Jenkins is charged with using a computer to attempt to persuade, induce, or entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison, if convicted in federal court in Eastern Wisconsin, federal authorities reported.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 23.

“Our nation faces an epidemic of child sexual abuse, with the Internet making it too easy for predators to communicate with children across the country,” Krueger said. “The Justice Department is committed to working with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute child sexual abuse aggressively.”

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 U.S. Department of Justice.

Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood helps marshals, federal, state and local agencies to better locate, apprehend and prosecute those who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit the website at www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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