Longview Man Sentenced to More Than 30 Years in Federal Prison for Enticement of 10-Year-Old Girl
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas
A Longview man was sentenced today to more than 30 years in federal prison for attempted enticement of a child, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.
Keith Lee Merchant – a 41-year-old man who was previously convicted in 2004 on state charges of sexually exploiting children – pleaded guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a child in October. He was sentenced today to 365 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle.
According to court documents, a federal agent acting in an undercover capacity responded to an online advertisement on a social media website entitled, “Taboo Family Fun – M4F 37 (Near You).” Within minutes, Mr. Merchant, the creator of the ad, replied to the undercover agent and initiated a three-week long, sexually explicit dialog via social media and Kik, a messaging app popular among teenagers.
During the communications, Mr. Merchant informed the undercover agent that he previously had sexual relations with young girls and that he was willing to have sexual relations with the undercover officer’s 10-year old daughter. Mr. Merchant expressed his desire to travel from his home in Longview to meet the 10-year-old girl and spend the night with her. He also promised to bring the young girl lingerie stating “got little miss a gift… I hope she likes purple.”
On March 23, 2018, Mr. Merchant traveled from his home in Longview to an apartment complex in Garland where he believed he was meeting the mother her daughter. When Mr. Merchant arrived at the apartment, FBI agents and Garland police officers were at the location and he was taken into custody. Inside his pickup truck, law enforcement located an overnight bag, a pink stuffed animal, a box of candy, and purple lingerie.
When questioned by law enforcement, Mr. Merchant admitted to posting the advertisement, “Taboo Family Fun” and agreed that the term “taboo” meant “underage.” Law enforcement forensically searched Mr. Merchant’s cell phone revealing his web history, internet searches, and bookmarks, all showing his interest in sexually exploiting children.
The FBI Dallas Field Office and the Garland Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Sparks prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department initiative designed to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse nationwide. The initiative pools federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
Updated January 3, 2023
Project Safe Childhood