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Texas Child Sex Offender Keith Merchant Sentenced To 30+ Years For Enticement Of 10-Year-Old Girl

LONGVIEW (CBSDFW.COM) — A previously convicted child sex offender in Texas has been sentenced to more than 30 years in federal prison for attempted enticement of a child.

Keith Lee Merchant, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a child in October. On March 25 he was sentenced to 365 months in federal prison.

According to court documents, in 2018 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, 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, 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. Merchant said would 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 girl lingerie stating, "got little miss a gift… I hope she likes purple."

Longview is about 120 miles east of Dallas.

Merchant did traveled to an apartment complex in Garland where he believed he was meeting the mother and her daughter. When he arrived, FBI agents and Garland police officers took him into custody. Officials later found an overnight bag, a pink stuffed animal, a box of candy, and purple lingerie inside his pickup.

When questioned by law enforcement, Merchant admitted to posting the ad online and agreed that the term "taboo" in his screenname meant "underage." Merchant's cell phone web history revealed, 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.

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