Man uses social media to entice a minor, sentenced to 25 years in Federal Prison

Used An Online Social Network to Induce the Victim to Engage in Sexually Explicit Conduct; Evidence Also Presented at Today’s Sentencing that Wright Sexually Abused the Victim

News Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar today sentenced Antonio Wright, age 42, of Baltimore, Maryland, to 25 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for coercing and enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and for two counts of production of child pornography.  Chief Judge Bredar also ordered that upon his release from prison, Wright will be required to register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.

Wright admitted that he used an online social network to induce the victim, Jane Doe, to engage in sexually explicit conduct, and to produce images of that conduct.  According to his plea agreement, Wright has known the victim since 2009, when Jane Doe was four years old, and lived with Jane Doe’s family intermittently until the Spring of 2017.  According to evidence presented at today’s hearing, Wright began sexually abusing the victim when she was 11 years old.

Beginning in at least August 2017, Wright and the victim, who was living with a foster family in Baltimore, began communicating by text messages, audio messages, and images, using an online social network.  The messages frequently included Wright’s declarations of love for Jane Doe and Wright also told Jane Doe that they should eventually get married.  Jane Doe was approximately 13 years old at this time.  Wright instructed the victim not to tell others that she has “an older man for a boyfriend,” and that he would get in trouble if anyone found out.

On January 4, 2018, Wright spent time with Jane Doe at his residence when Baltimore City schools were closed due to snow.  That afternoon, Jane Doe’s foster mother noticed that Jane Doe did not come home when she expected her.  When she was unable to locate Jane Doe, she found the tablet that Jane Doe was using to communicate with Wright and observed the sexually explicit chats and images.  After Wright brought Jane Doe home that afternoon, her foster mother filed a report with the Maryland Department of Human Services, who referred the case to Child Protective Services for investigation.  As part of the investigation, Jane Doe’s tablet and social media accounts were searched, and sexually explicit photos, texts, messages, and voice messages were located. 

According to evidence presented at today’s hearing, Wright sexually abused the victim from the time she was 11 years old until January 4, 2018.  Wright admitted to federal investigators that he had engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the victim, that Wright had asked the victim to send him sexually explicit images of herself—which she did, and that Wright sent the victim sexually explicit images of himself.  In addition, there was evidence presented that the victim disclosed to authorities that Wright sexually molested her at his house on January 4, 2018.  Wright subsequently admitted to sexually abusing the victim on that day.

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 Attorney’s 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.  For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.       

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Matthew Maddox, who prosecuted the federal case.

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