Aberdeen man sentenced to 13 years for sex crime against minors

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Jul. 15—An Aberdeen man who coerced three minor females to engage in sexual conversations between 2017 and 2019 and engaged in sex acts with one of the minors, has been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison plus lifetime supervised release, the Maryland State's Attorney's Office announced.

Anthony Gonzalez, 40, of Aberdeen, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow for coercion and enticement of a minor, according to a news release from the Maryland State's Attorney's Office. Upon release, Gonzalez will be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

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According to his guilty plea, in June 2018, Gonzalez made contact with a minor female on a social media app whose profile stated that she was 18 years old. The minor informed Gonzalez that her actual age was 16.

During their conversations, Gonzalez referred to the minor as his girlfriend, discussed getting married to her and initiated sexual conversations, according to the Maryland State's Attorney's Office.

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On one occasion, Gonzalez asked the minor to sneak out of a hotel room that she was sharing with her father to meet him and on June 27, 2018, Gonzalez traveled from a Bel Air residence to meet the minor at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, hotel where the minor was staying.

Then, Gonzalez and the minor engaged in sexually explicit activity twice and in one of the encounters, Gonzalez recorded the sexual acts on his phone, according to the Maryland State's Attorney's Office. Gonzalez also brought the minor a phone with the ability to take pictures and videos since her phone could not.

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Between 2017 and 2018, Gonzalez met a second minor female online when she was 13 years old and initiated a romantic online relationship. During their conversations, he frequently held sexual conversations with her, convinced her to send sexual images and discussed meeting her in person. When she declined and blocked Gonzalez multiple times, a mutual friend encouraged her to communicate with him, according to the Maryland State's Attorney's Office.

Gonzalez met a third minor female in 2018 when she was 15 years old, according to the Maryland State's Attorney's Office. Gonzalez told this minor that they were "boyfriend and girlfriend" and convinced her to send him sexually explicit images more than 500 times at his request. The minor believed she had to do what Gonzalez requested because she was his "girlfriend," the Maryland State's Attorney's Office said.

According to his plea agreement, on Jan. 24, 2019, a federal search warrant was executed at Gonzalez's Aberdeen home. Law enforcement officers seized several devices including two tablets, three cellphones and a SIM card.

In an interview with investigators, Gonzalez admitted to engaging in sex acts with the first minor and saved the recordings to an internet storage system. He also admitted that he knew the second female was a minor during their conversations and had approximately four sexually explicit images of her.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI, Baltimore Field Office; Col. Woodrow W. Jones III, superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Director Darrell R. Reider of the Swatara Township, Pennsylvania Police Department.

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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. 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.