A Connecticut youth baseball coach allegedly used the internet to solicit a 14-year-old boy for sexual activity at the Warwick hotel, has been arrested by the Rhode Island State Police.
33-year-old Christopher Merchant, from Canterbury, CT, has been charged with three counts of Electronically Disseminating Indecent Material to a Minor, two count of Indecent Solicitation of a Child, & Possession of Child Pornography.
Though Merchant is vice president and coach of the Plainfield Little League in Plainfield, CT, to date there is no evidence of involvement with any of the players in the league.
Little League International issued the following statement,“Christopher Merchant has been suspended immediately from all activity from Plainfield/Moosup Little League pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. The league will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials on this matter. As this issue is under investigation, the league has no further comment.”
An investigation by members of the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force exposed a series of communications in January 2019 between Merchant, and the boy he believed to be 14-years old – which later resulted in the ICAC Task Force obtaining a warrant for Merchant’s arrest.
Fox News 61 reports: “The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force Program is administered by the Rhode Island State Police and supports a national network of multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task forces engaged in investigations, forensic examinations, and prosecutions related to Internet crimes against children and technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation.”
During the arrest on January 25th, 2019 at the Warwick hotel, members of the ICAC Task Force discovered child pornography on Merchant’s personal phone.
Merchant was held at the Adult Correctional Institutions on $100,000 bail pending arraignment in District Court on Monday.
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