PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Connecticut Little League baseball coach arrested in Rhode Island after arranging to meet with whom he believed to be a 14-year-old boy for sexual activity learned his fate on Friday.
Christopher Merchant, 34, of Woodstock, Conn., was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to charges of traveling across state lines with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and transporting child pornography.
In pleading guilty, Merchant admitted that on several occasions beginning in early January 2019, he engaged in a series of sexually graphic exchanges online with a person he thought was the teen boy, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Aaron Weisman. He also admitted to arranging to meet the boy at a Warwick hotel to engage in sexual activity.
Merchant was actually communicating with a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which was conducting an investigation into online child exploitation through a dating and social networking app for smartphones.
R.I. State Police said child pornography was found on Merchant’s phone following his arrest.
In addition to the five-year prison term, Merchant was sentenced to 15 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $5,000 to the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act.