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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

Monday, May 9, 2016

Parma man charged with sex trafficking of children

Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Division, Northern District of Ohio, and Acting U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon announced the arrest of Richard Purnell, 54, of Parma. 

Purnell has been charged in federal court with Sex Trafficking of Children, Title 18, U.S.C. Section 1591. 

In November 2015, the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force became aware of an online advertisement for a “lovely college girl” who has a “thing for older men.”  Photos were attached to this advertisement and appeared to indicate a female under the age of 18.  An investigation ensued and agents confirmed that the “lovely college girl” was in fact 14 years of age, according to court documents.    

A federal arrest warrant was obtained on May 6, 2016 and Purnell was taken into custody by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force that evening at approximately 8:30pm in Parma, Ohio.  The Child Exploitation Task Force is comprised of the Adult Parole Authority, Cleveland Metro Housing Authority, Cleveland Police Department and Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office.  The Parma Police Department provided substantial assistance to this successful investigation and arrest. 

Purnell has been held in the Parma jail since his arrest Friday night.   He is scheduled to appear before federal Judge Parker today at 2:30 p.m. 

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any; their role in the offenses; and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI, 216-522-1400 or Vicki.Anderson@ic.fbi.gov




Human Trafficking
Updated May 9, 2016