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Press Release

Massachusetts Sex Offender Sentenced for Travelling to Rhode Island to Engage in Illicit Sex with a Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – A 57-year-old man from Fairhaven, MA, was sentenced today to 97 months in federal prison for traveling in interstate commerce to engage in sexual activity with a minor.

Robert F. Eccleston, a registered sex offender, admitted to the Court that on July 12, 2016, he traveled from Massachusetts to East Providence, RI, expecting to meet with and engage in illicit sexual activity with a 15-year-old boy he had been communicating with on the Internet.

Eccleston pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence on September 21, 2017, to travelling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.

At sentencing today, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also sentenced Eccleston to serve lifetime supervised release upon completion of his term of incarceration.

The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range of imprisonment in this matter is 78-97 months. The government recommended the court impose a sentence of 97 months in prison.

Eccleston’s sentence is announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, and Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

At the time of his guilty plea, Eccleston admitted to the Court that on July 7, 2016, he responded to an online Personals/Encounters posting and photograph of a male who initially represented that he was 18-years-old and single. The online posting was actually posted earlier that day by a Rhode Island State Police Detective assigned to the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

Over the next several days, an HSI agent posing as the person who placed the online posting and Eccleston engaged in a series of Internet and email communications. The communications quickly became sexual in nature. The agent, posing as the person who placed the online posting, repeatedly told Eccleston that he was only 15-years-old, adding that he lived with his mother. As the communications continued, and believing that he was actually communicating with a 15-year-old, Eccleston asked for photographs of the boy, including an explicit nude photograph.

According to court documents and information presented to the Court, at Eccleston’s urging, the two agreed to meet in East Providence on July 12, 2016, to engage in sexual activity. ICAC task force members and HSI agents arrested Eccleston near the location where he believed that he would meeting with the 15-year-old boy.

Eccleston has been detained in federal custody since his arrest on July 12, 2016.

According to court records, Eccleston was ordered to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts in 2006, following his conviction on charges that he raped a person under 18.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dulce Donovan.

The Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from the Rhode Island State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Warwick, Cranston, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, North Kingstown, Bristol, and Woonsocket Police Departments.



Jim Martin
(401) 490-1092

Updated October 9, 2018

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 18-130