A previously convicted child sex offender from Longview has been sentenced to more than 30 years in federal prison for attempted enticement of a child.
Keith Lee Merchant, 41, was sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle to 365 months in prison, according to acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah. Merchant was convicted in 2004 on state charges of indecency with a child by sexual contact and possession of child pornography.
According to court documents, an undercover federal agent responded to an advertisement on a social media website called, “Taboo Family Fun.”
Within minutes, Merchant, the creator of the ad, replied and started a three-week long sexually explicit conversation through social media and the messaging app Kik, according to Shah.
Merchant told the agent about past sexual relations with “young girls” and that he was willing to have sex with the officer’s 10-year-old daughter. Merchant said he would travel from his home in Longview to meet the girl and spend the night with her, according to Shah. He also said he would bring the girl lingerie.
On March 23, 2018, Merchant traveled to an apartment complex in Garland where he believed he would meet the mother and her daughter, according to Shah. When he arrived, FBI agents and Garland police took him into custody.
In Merchant’s truck, officers found an overnight bag, a pink stuffed animal, a box of candy and purple lingerie.
Merchant told law enforcement he posted the ad and that the word “taboo” in “Taboo Family Fun” meant underage, according to Shah. Officers searched Merchant’s cellphone and found his web history, internet searches and bookmarks “showing his interest in sexually exploiting children.”
The FBI Dallas Field Office and the Garland Police Department conducted the investigation, which was part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department initiative designed to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse nationwide.