AUGUSTA, GA: A Florida man has been arraigned in U.S. District Court on charges related to his alleged attempts to coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Gordon T. Cooper, 46, of Clermont, Fla., appeared in a virtual hearing before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps regarding his indictment on charges of Attempted Coercion and Enticement, and Transfer of Obscene Matter to a Minor, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The maximum penalty for the charges are up to life in prison and substantial fines and penalties, followed by a registration as a sex offender and a period of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Our law enforcement partners remain vigilant in monitoring cyber traffic for predators targeting vulnerable citizens, especially children,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Likewise, our office continues to be aggressive in prosecuting those found responsible for illegal online activities.”
According to court documents and testimony, the investigation began when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was alerted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about online traffic targeting a minor who resides in Columbia County. The messages were attempting to induce the minor to engage in illegal sexual activity and shared obscene material with the minor. GBI investigators monitoring the messages identified and arrested Cooper.
“This indictment illustrates the great work of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes against children,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “The GBI is committed to working with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure that child sexual exploitation cases are aggressively pursued.”
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood (PSC). The case is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and PSC Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.