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Justice News

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Parma man convicted of child sex trafficking

A Parma man was convicted of sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl, said U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office.

Richard Purnell, 54, was convicted by a jury of sex trafficking of children. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec 13.

“Those who prey on our children, whether selling them or buying them, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows,” Rendon said. “We are gratified Judge Adams ordered the defendant into custody so he can continue serving what we expect will be an appropriately lengthy prison sentence.”

“Purnell chose to repeatedly victimize a 14-year-old girl for his own sexual gratification without any regard for what is legally or morally acceptable," said Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI Cleveland Division. "His actions are reprehensible and unacceptable. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who engage in human trafficking.”

Purnell repeatedly engaged in commercial sex acts with the 14-year-old, whose images were posted on the website by Ronnie Pratt, according to court documents and trial testimony.

Pratt has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Purnell continued to engage in commercial sex acts with the girl even after she told him she was only 14 years old, according to trial testimony.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bridget M. Brennan and Linda Barr following an investigation by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force. The Child Exploitation Task Force is comprised of the FBI, Adult Parole Authority, Cleveland Metro Housing Authority, Cleveland Police Department and Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office.  The Parma Police Department provided substantial assistance to the successful investigation. 

Human Trafficking
Updated September 6, 2016