U.S. Attorney Stephanie A.Finley announced Friday that a former
youth minister and Half Back Media owner Eric Michael Manuel, 23, of Lafayette was
sentenced to 27 years in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth E. Foote for enticing
minors to engage in criminal sexual activity. Manuel also is required to complete 15 years
of supervised release.
A federal grand jury indicted Manual in January 2012 on 18 counts of production
of child pornography and two counts of using a facility of interstate commerce to persuade
a minor to engage in criminal sexual acts.
In the factual basis for the guilty plea, Manuel admitted he would text underage
boys to convince them to engage in sexual acts. Manuel also would pay the boys to allow
him to perform oral sex upon them. The defendant attempted to entice a third boy to
engage in sexual conduct with him, but the boy refused.
Additionally, Manuel admitted to creating a Facebook page in the name of a young
girl, Emily Brandt. While using the false persona of Emily, Manuel convinced 18 boys
between the ages of 13 and 17 to produce sexually explicit images and videos of themselves
and send them to him. When one boy refused to send the sexually explicit images to
Manuel, he threatened the boy.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation/LafayetteResident Agency,theLouisiana State
Police, and the Lafayette Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney
John Luke Walker prosecuted the case.