EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – On Thursday, a Belleville, Illinois, man appeared in federal court to be sentenced for sexually exploiting children.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois said Larry Hale, 54, preyed on a teenager in another state after meeting her on a dating app.

Hale, who was 51 at the time, traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, in February 2020 to pick up a 16-year-old and bring her back to Illinois to live with him. The victim was found in Hale’s house in July 2020.

At the time, the Belleville Police Department had responded to a well-being call on July 3. Witnesses told the officers they had seen an unknown girl living at the home the past few months. 

During an interview with police at the time, Hale confessed to having sex with the victim and told investigators he knew she was 16 when he drove to Georgia to get her.

Hale also admitted to having a video on his cell phone of the victim performing a sex act.

A U.S. District Court judge sentenced Hale to 15 years in federal prison.