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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Monday, August 10, 2015

Palm Coast Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Charge Of Failure To Register As A Sex Offender

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces today that Stephen Paul Cotton (43, Palm Coast) has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of failing to register as a sex offender after traveling from Florida to North Carolina. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. Cotton was arrested in Suwanee, Georgia on April 11, 2015.

According to court documents, in January 1999, Cotton was convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child in Manatee County.  Subsequent to his conviction, and between 2004 and 2012, he registered as a sex offender with Florida authorities as required. However, between July 2012 and December 2014, Cotton traveled from Florida to Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, but failed to register as a sex offender as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The Adam Walsh Act provides for the use of federal law enforcement resources, including the United States Marshals Service, to assist state and local authorities in locating and apprehending non-compliant sex offenders.

This case was investigated by the United States Marshals Service, the Suwanee (Georgia) Police Department, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.

It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Project Safe Childhood
Updated August 10, 2015