Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty to Enticing a Minor to Have Sex

March 16, 2009

Baltimore, Maryland - James Francis Gobble, age 55, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to using a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to his plea agreement, on November 21, 2008 an undercover Baltimore County detective posted an ad in an online publicly-available service indicating he was a school girl out of school for the day. Gobble emailed the detective, and the detective responded that he was a 13 year old girl. In subsequent exchanges of emails and text messages, Gobble asked the girl to perform oral sex on him. In exchange, he would buy her a prepaid phone card and/or a digital camera.

A few days later and while online, Gobble asked the 13 year old girl if “she” was a cop, and said he knew that it was illegal to have sex with a 13 year old. Gobble arranged to meet the girl at a fast-food establishment in Baltimore on November 25, 2008. Prior to the prearranged meeting time, the detective received an email from Gobble advising that his wife had taken the car and that they would have to meet the next day. On November 26 law enforcement officers saw Gobble’s vehicle enter the fast-food place in Baltimore and arrested him. In a subsequent interview, Gobble admitted to attempting to meet a 13 year old girl through the internet and using his home computer to arrange the meeting in order to have sex.

Gobble faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, followed by supervised release up to life. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled sentencing for June 12, 2009 at 11:30 a.m.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Details about Maryland’s program are available at

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Baltimore County Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and his office for their investigation and assistance in the prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bonnie S. Greenberg, who is prosecuting the case.



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