Plainfield Little League Coach Accused of Trying to Solicit Teen for Sexual Activity in Rhode Island Suspended

Police in Rhode Island have arrested a man from Canterbury, Connecticut, who is accused of trying to solicit a teen to engage in sexual activity at a hotel in Warwick.

According to Rhode Island State Police, 33-year-old Christopher Merchant, of Canterbury, is facing charges including two counts of indecent solicitation of a child, three counts of electronically disseminating indecent materials to a minor and possession of child pornography.

The arrest stemmed from an investigation by members of the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, police said.

During the month of January, investigators said a man, later identified as Merchant, engaged in a series of communications with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old boy.

According to prosecutors in court, Merchant used an online dating app to communicate with the person.

Police said the conversation quickly became sexually explicit and Merchant allegedly disseminated indecent material and solicited the person, who he believed to be a 14-year-old boy, to engage in sexual activity at a hotel in Warwick.

Members of the ICAC Task Force obtained a warrant for his arrest.

On Friday, ICAC Task Force members arrested Merchant at the Warwick hotel, police said. During the arrest, Task Force members found child pornography in a Dropbox account on Merchant's phone as well as images of boys the defense stated he knew from his work with the Little League organization.

Merchant was released from custody on a $50,000 bail following his arraignment Monday. NBC Connecticut spoke to his defense attorney who opted not to comment on the case.

Officials said Merchant is the vice president and a coach with the Plainfield Little League in Plainfield, Connecticut. According to police, at this time, there no evidence of any involvement with members of the Plainfield Little League.

According to Little League officials, Merchant has been suspended immediately from all activities in Plainfield/Moosup Little League, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

The league said they will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials. 

Contact Us