Man Gets 30 Years After Driving To Garland For Sex With Underage Girl

A Longview man who drove from his East Texas home to Garland after arranging to have sex with a 10-year-old girl was recently sentenced to more than 30 years in federal prison, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News.

According to the Dallas Morning News, 41-year-old Keith Lee Merchant was sentenced to 365 months in prison after pleading guilty in October 2020 to one count of attempted enticement of a child. The report notes that Merchant was a registered sex offender after being convicted in 2004 of indecency with a child by sexual contact and possession of child pornography. In addition to having to register as a sex offender, Merchant served six years of an eight-year prison sentence before being granted parole.

Police most recently arrested Merchant on March 28, 2018, as part of an undercover FBI operation. Court records obtained by the Dallas Morning News show Merchant had initially caught the FBI’s attention after posting an ad in Craigslist’s “Casual Encounters” section earlier in March titled “Taboo Family Fun.” An FBI operative pretending to be the mother of a 10-year-old girl responded to Merchant’s post, beginning a three-week dialogue that records show was “sexually explicit.”

Court records add that during his dialogue with the FBI agent, Merchant claimed he had previously had sexual encounters with underage girls and that he wanted to drive to Garland to have sex with the 10-year-old. During the dialogue, Merchant also told the FBI agent he would bring the girl lingerie.

Authorities took Merchant into custody at an apartment complex in Garland after he made a scheduled trip to meet the girl for sex. Inside his pickup truck, officers reportedly found a pink stuffed animal, a purple lingerie set, and a box of Skittles. Authorities later said that during an interview, Merchant admitted to posting the Craigslist ad.

Though he’s been sentenced on criminal charges, Merchant is currently fighting the city of Garland and the FBI in civil court. He claims his cellphone and other pieces of evidence were tampered with, and he’s seeking $2.2 million in damages.

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Being accused of sex crimes can have devastating impacts on your life. In addition to substantial jail time, you could face fines, the loss of your job, and the loss of your reputation. If you’re forced to register as a sex offender, you can be blocked from living in certain areas or working in certain jobs if you’re able to find a job at all with a criminal record.

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Written by: Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian Last Updated : June 15, 2023