An attorney who practiced law in Liberty, Missouri has been sentenced to six years in prison for multiple crimes resulting from a lewd computer chat with an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl. Jerome M. Patience, 40, received the sentence on January 18 immediately after pleading guilty in the Platte County Circuit Court.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “Those who would attempt to use the Internet to exploit children can come from any walk of life. Sadly, this is not the first lawyer we have prosecuted, and doctors, pastors, and teachers from across America have been convicted of Internet-based child sex crimes. I urge parents to be continually mindful of their children’s usage of any device capable of reaching the Internet.”
During his guilty plea, Patience admitted to chatting on the Internet with an undercover officer who was posing as a 13-year-old girl in May 2016. The two chatted until June 22, 2016, during which time Patience or the “girl” mentioned her age nine times.
The chats were sexual and Patience showed interest in meeting the “girl.” He told her he did not know where they could meet “that I can trust that it doesn’t get me arrested.”
Investigators ultimately identified a Liberty law office from which Patience was conducting his chat. He told the “girl” that he only chatted while at work and not during the evening and weekends.
On August 25, 2016, investigators served a search warrant at the law firm. Patience’s computer was open to the Yahoo account from which he had conducted the chat with the undercover officer.
Patience pleaded guilty to attempted sexual exploitation of a minor for communicating with a person he believed to be less than 14 years old and urging her to “take pics” while performing a sexual act. He was also convicted of two counts of sexual misconduct for exposing his genitals to the “girl.” Finally, Patience was convicted of attempting to furnish pornographic materials to minors by sending pictures of his genitals and written descriptions of sex acts to the “girl.”
Zahnd said, “Of course, the good news in this case is that the defendant never actually spoke to a real 13-year-old girl. But children are being exploited every day on the Internet. All of us who are parents owe it to our children to monitor their activity on the Internet to keep them safe from predators.”
The case was investigated by the Western Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security. It was prosecuted by Joe Vanover, a former assistant prosecuting attorney in Zahnd’s office, and assistant prosecuting attorneys Chris Seufert and Miranda Loesch.
A photo of Patience is attached. If you need more information, please contact our media liaison, Tanya Faherty.
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third St., Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri 64079