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Merchant Admits Seeking Sex with Minor in Warwick, Transporting Child Porn

[CREDIT: RI State Police] Christopher Merchant, 33, of 259 Water St., Canterbury, CT, a vice president and coach with the Plainfield Little League in Plainfield, CT
[CREDIT: RI State Police] Christopher Merchant, 33, of 259 Water St., Canterbury, CT, a vice president and coach with the Plainfield Little League in Plainfield, CT
[CREDIT: RI State Police] Christopher Merchant, 33, of 259 Water St., Canterbury, CT, a vice president and coach with the Plainfield Little League in Plainfield, CT

PROVIDENCE — Christopher L. Merchant, 33, of Canterbury,Conn.,charged with soliciting a14-year-old boyfor sex at a Warwick hotel in January,

pleaded guilty in federal court inProvidence Wednesday to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage inillicit sexual conduct and transporting child pornography.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman.

Members of the Rhode IslandState Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrestedMerchant Jan. 25, 2019, and charged in Rhode Island state court with indecentsolicitation of a child and with disseminating and possessing child pornography,according to Weisman’s office.

Appearing in U.S. DistrictCourt in Providence, Christopher L. Merchant, 33, of Canterbury, Conn.,admitted that on numerous occasions he communicated via social media with anindividual he believed to be a 14-year-old boy. The communications rapidlyturned sexually graphic. Merchant admitted that during the exchanges hearranged to meet with the boy at a Warwick hotel to engage in illicit sexual

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activity. Merchant also admitted to sending obscene photographs to the personwith whom he was communicating, Weisman’s office reported.

Merchant was in factcommunicating with a member of law enforcement assigned to the ICAC Task Force.Upon his arrival at the hotel on January 25, 2019, Merchant was arrested bymembers of the ICAC Task Force. A review of his cell phone revealed images ofchild pornography stored in the phone.

Merchant was held on statecharges at the ACI until posting bail on January 28. He was re-arrested on afederal arrest warrant two days after his release from the ACI. He wasarraigned in federal court and released on $10,000 unsecured bond, according toWeisman’s office.

Merchantis scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E.Smith on June 28, 2019.

Travelin interstate commerce with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct ispunishable by statutory penalties of up to 30 years in federal prison, a term

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of supervised release of 5 years to life, and a mandatory$5,000 special assessment imposed as required bythe Justice forVictims Trafficking Actin child sexual exploitation caseswhere the Court makes a finding that the defendant is not indigent, Weisman’s office reported.

Transporting child pornography ispunishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment, with amandatory 5 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release of 5 years tolife,anda mandatory$5,000 special assessment imposed asrequired bytheJustice for Victims Trafficking Actin child sexualexploitation cases where the Court makes a finding that the defendant is notindigent, Weisman’s office reported.

Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.