Stephen Ferrante, 61, of East Greenwich, was ordered detained in federal custody following an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Providence on Thursday before Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond on a federal criminal complaint charging him with attempting to persuade, induce, entice or coerce an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity.
It is alleged in court documents that Ferrante arranged to engage in sexual activity with an 8-year-old female during a series of emails, text messages and a telephone conversation with a person he believed to be the minor’s step-father. The person he was communicating with was a Rhode Island State Police detective assigned to the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
Ferrante’s arrest and the filing of a federal criminal complaint in this matter is announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Matthew J. Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations for New England.
According to court documents, it is alleged that on January 4, 2017, a State Police detective responded by email to a posting on Craigslist.com posted by Ferrante soliciting “open minded” parents of a daughter willing to allow their daughter to “be naked in a group setting.” Ferrante was led to believe that he was communicating with the step-father of an 8-year-old girl. Over the next 8 days, communications by email, text message and telephone became sexually explicit during which time Ferrante expressed a strong interest to engage in sexual activity with the 8-year-old female.
According to court documents, it is alleged that on January 12, 2017, Ferrante and the State Police detective agreed to meet in person in Warwick, at which time Ferrante believed the 8-year-old girl would be made available to him to engage in sexual activity. Upon meeting at an agreed upon location, Ferrante was arrested and charged with two counts of solicitation. He was released on bail following his arraignment in Rhode Island state court.
A federal criminal is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Attempting to persuade, induce, entice or coerce an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity in punishable by statutory penalties of 10 years to life imprisonment followed by up to lifetime supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
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