TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Charles Keith Sumner, 56, of Thomasville, Georgia, was sentenced to ten years in federal prison today for using the internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity and for traveling in interstate commerce to engage in such illicit sexual activity.
Sumner was convicted at a jury trial, which concluded on June 5, 2012. Evidence showed that Sumner replied to two internet ads in October 2011, each indicating that a fourteen-year-old girl was interested in sexual activity. Sumner focused on one girl, saying that he did not want trouble, but “would love to teach” her [about sex]. After several hours of texts and e-mails, Sumner drove from Thomasville to an undercover location in Tallahassee to meet this girl. He was arrested at 2:30 a.m. on October 13, 2011, with condoms, sexual paraphernalia, and narcotic drugs. Both of the “girls” were actually law enforcement agents, posing as fourteen-year-old girls as part of an undercover investigation conducted by the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (“ICAC”) Task Force.
On October 14, 2011, Sheriff’s investigators in Thomas County, Georgia, searched Sumner’s plumbing business and residence, seizing two computers. At trial, the government offered 85 provocative images of young women and girls taken from these computers and from Sumner’s cellular telephone, to rebut his claim that he was entrapped by the undercover agents.
As part of Sumner’s sentence, United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle also imposed a lifetime term of supervised release, with the conditions that Sumner attend sex offender treatment, that he register as a sex offender, and that his premises, computers, and other electronic devices be subject to search by his probation officer and by law enforcement.
Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, credited the success of this prosecution to the joint efforts of the agencies participating in the North Florida ICAC, particularly Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Ms. Marsh said, “The protection of the children in our community remains one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice, and great praise is deserved by all of our law enforcement partners who contributed to the success of this investigation.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson, who is the Senior Litigation Counsel for the Northern District of Florida.