News and Press Releases

Montana Man Pleads Guilty To Traveling To Pa. For Sex With A Child

May 9, 2011

ERIE, Pa. ‑ A former resident of Lewistown, Montana, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Donald Ray Maxwell Cates, 23, pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Cates traveled to Erie from Montana for the purpose of meeting the victim and engaging in illicit sexual conduct.  After Cates met the victim in Erie, they obtained a series of rides to Arkansas, where they were apprehended.

Launched in February 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Cates' sentencing date is to be set.  The law provides for a total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Erie Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Clarksville, Arkansas Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Cates.

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