Middle River man gets 12 years in Facebook luring case
FARGO - Within a three-year period, Darrin Roy Anderson engaged in more than 800 private conversations over Facebook with one goal in mind: lure teenage girls into having sex with him for money.
The 36-year-old Middle River, Minn., man preyed on minors - mostly in the Red River Valley - to fulfill his sexual appetite in a manner federal prosecutors in North Dakota say they've never seen before.
After soliciting countless girls for sex, Anderson got what he was after in at least one case - and the 13-year-old victim from the Grand Forks area will never be the same.
Anderson was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison for traveling across state lines to pay a child to have sex with him.
According to testimony during Monday's court hearing in Fargo, Anderson would initially use a fake name to reach out to girls, mostly between 13 and 17 years old.
He'd call them "sexy" or "smokin' hot" and use his alias to introduce the girls to himself.
At that point, Anderson - as himself - would elicit sexual conversations with the girls and send them nude photos of himself, often through deceptive means.
In some cases, Anderson would go so far as to arrange meetings with the girls, where he'd pay $300 if they had sex with him.
That's what brought a 13-year-old girl to an East Grand Forks, Minn., motel in August 2009.
Anderson, a skilled tradesman, had traveled from his work site in Walhalla, N.D., to meet her.
The victim brought a friend with her for support. The friend waited in the bathroom while Anderson had sex with the victim, and the friend later informed her mother about the incident.
After the victim's mother involved police, investigators uncovered Anderson's disturbing pattern of conduct that's an example of a sexual predator.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Puhl described Anderson's efforts as "egregious and persistent as I've ever seen."
Federal sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of six to seven years, but Puhl argued that such a sentence wouldn't match the extent of Anderson's actions.
In comparison, a conviction for simply luring a minor online comes with a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years.
Puhl recommended the same amount because Anderson's conduct went far beyond luring and involved an actual sexual assault.
Anderson and his defense attorney, Chris Lancaster, asked for leniency, arguing that a sentence of six to seven years would serve justice.
"I'm begging you: show mercy on me," Anderson said. "I really messed up this time, and as God is my witness, I'll never do this again."
Chief District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson agreed with Puhl that federal guidelines didn't reflect the seriousness of the case and the extent of Anderson's actions.
In a rare move, Erickson ordered a sentence above what was recommended - saying an oversight in the law shouldn't allow Anderson to get off easy.
"We're talking about a middle-aged man prostituting a 13-year-old girl," Erickson said. "It's incredible in its perversity. It's heartless, it's cruel, it's callous, it's depraved. There's no other way to describe it."
Erickson called Anderson's offense "as serious an offense as this court has seen short of murder."
"The day will come when you will serve your sentence, but this little girl will never recover from the sentence she's been served," Erickson said.
The victim had to be committed to a psychiatric institution to deal with the emotional turmoil following the sexual assault, her mother said in a tearful speech before the court.
The girl cut herself and needed to be put on prescription medications. Still, all the treatment available won't undo what Anderson's crimes did to the girl, her mother said.
"Your apology means absolutely nothing to me," she said. "You're not sorry for the problems you created for my daughter and our family. You're only sorry for the problems you created in your own life."