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Justice News

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Parma man sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison for sexually exploiting teen girl

First time human trafficking customer prosecuted in Northern District of Ohio

A Parma man was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison for sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl, said Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office.


A jury last year convicted Richard Purnell, 56, of sex trafficking of children.


“This is a child rapist who deserves every day of this prison sentence,” Sierleja said. “This case is further proof that human trafficking happens all around us. We will go after customers as well as people who profit from human trafficking.”


“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. He 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.


Pratt is serving 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sex trafficking charges.


The Purnell case is the first time a customer has been prosecuted federal in a human trafficking case in the Northern District of Ohio.


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 investigation.

Human Trafficking
Mike Tobin 216.622.3651
Updated August 2, 2017