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Central Illinois man charged with child sexual exploitation

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) _ A 47-year-old central Illinois man faces federal charges of child sexual exploitation for allegedly using a social media site to try to contact and meet minors.

A Wednesday statement from Springfield’s U.S. attorney’s office says Charles A. Hewitt, of Creve Coeur, had been convicted in 2014 of a sex offense.

A grand jury indictment returned this week accuses Hewitt of engaging in the sexual exploitation of three minor victims starting in 2017. Hewitt allegedly used phony names and profile pictures on the site to appear as a 15-year-old boy.

He is charged with child sexual exploitation and enticement. Because he would be considered a repeat offender, a conviction could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

A message left for Hewitt’s federal public defender Wednesday wasn’t returned.