A Plainfield Little League coach accused of trying to solicit a teen for sexual activity in Rhode Island has pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Christopher Merchant, 33, of Canterbury, Connecticut, admitted he traveled to Rhode Island to engage in sexual misconduct with a person he believed to be under the age of 16, according to a press release from the District of Rhode Island Attorney's Office.
Merchant was arrested on federal charges related to initial accusations brought by Rhode Island State Police on Jan. 25. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and transporting child pornography.
According to the US Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, Merchant admitted to using social media to communicate with a person he believed was a 14-year-old boy, sending sexually graphic messages. Merchant admitted be arranged to meet with the boy at a Warwick, Rhode Island hotel, and also to sending obscene photos.
The boy was actually a law enforcement officer assigned to the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, police said.
Travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct is punishable with up to 30 years in prison, and transporting child pornography for up to 20 years. Merchant is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28, 2019.
Merchant is also facing state charges in Rhode Island.
Officials said Merchant was the vice president and coach of the Plainfield Little League. At this time, there no evidence of any involvement with members of the little league, according to police.
Merchant was suspended from all activities in the little league pending the outcome of both state and federal investigations.