James Edwin Ledbetter, 62, of Humboldt, was formally arraigned Monday morning in Jackson City Court on a charge of solicitation of aggravated statutory rape for soliciting a minor to engage in sexual acts.
According to Tennessee Code Annotated 39-13-528 (a)(7), “It is an offense for a person 18 years of age or older, by means of oral, written or electronic communication, electronic mail or Internet services, directly or through another, to intentionally command, request, hire, persuade, invite or attempt to induce a person whom the person making the solicitation knows, or should know, is less than 18 years of age, or solicits a law enforcement officer posing as a minor, and whom the person making the solicitation reasonably believes to be less than 18 years of age, to engage in conduct that, if completed, would constitute a violation by the soliciting adult” of the following offense: statutory rape (which is a Class E felony).
Ledbetter was arrested Friday night and his bond was set at $25,000 Saturday morning, according to a news release from the Jackson Police Department. He posted bond and was released from the Madison County Jail around noon Saturday.
Jackson City Court Judge Blake Anderson read the affidavit of complaint during Ledbetter’s arraignment and afterwards, ordered that Ledbetter’s case be set for a hearing.
Ledbetter’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 16.
According to the affidavit and police, Ledbetter solicited a 17-year-old female for sex on Friday evening after she responded to an ad on Craigslist. Ledbetter and the minor spoke through emails and text messages on his cell phone and he arranged to meet the girl at McDonald's, located at 16 Stonebrook Place in Jackson. Ledbetter also planned to pick the girl up from McDonald's and take her back to her Jackson home for sexual acts.
Investigators from JPD’s Special Investigations Bureau stopped Ledbetter at McDonald's as he arrived to meet the minor and Ledbetter was taken into custody.
Ledbetter was interviewed by investigators, the affidavit said. During the interview, Ledbetter admitted to soliciting the 17-year-old girl for oral sex.
Preliminary investigations suggest that Ledbetter may have previously asked other minors on the Internet for sex, police said last week.
Jackson police are asking anyone who has been contacted by Ledbetter or has information about this case to contact the Jackson Police Department's Special Investigations Bureau at 731-425-8611. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 731-424-8477 (TIPS) or submit a cyber tip at jmcrimestoppers.org and click on “web tips.”