PITTSBURGH - A Chester County resident pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of sex trafficking of a child, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Rasul Abernathy, 33, pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in and around December of 2012, to in and around March 2013, Abernathy knowingly recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided and obtained a minor, John Doe, to engage in a commercial sex acts.
Judge Hornak scheduled sentencing for Jan. 8, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. The law provides for a total mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Pursuant to the defendant’s plea agreement with the government, Abernathy agreed to a sentence of 10 years of imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Allegheny County Police Department and the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Abernathy.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.