Thomasville, GA -- June 6, 2012 --
56-year-old Keith Sumner of Thomasville will now be spending a long time behind bars. Sumner owns a plumbing business in town. He was convicted Tuesday in Tallahassee for using the internet to sexually entice who he thought were two 14 year-old girls.
"They're sick! Anytime an adult makes with a child he's sick, he's very sick," said Thomasville resident Willie Lurry.
According to an official release from the U.S. Department of Justice, in October of 2011, Sumner "quickly focused on one girl, saying that he did not want trouble, but "would love to teach" her [about sex]."
After several hours of email exchanges, Sumner drove from Thomasville to Tallahassee.
The release goes on to say that "Sumner brought condoms, a variety of sexual paraphernalia, and narcotic drugs to the arrest location."
The 14 year-old girls were actually undercover law enforcement agents.
"He was a real people person, he was very outgoing, very soft spoken, he was a good person," said Sumner's neighbor, Keith Graham.
Graham still can't believe this was the same man he used to do yard-work for.
"As far as being a predator I never would have thought in a million years that we were standing in front of a person that was doing that."
Tallahassee, FL -- June 5, 2012 --
By jury verdicts returned this morning in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, Charles Keith Sumner, 56, of Thomasville, Georgia, was convicted of using the internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity and of traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual activity with a minor.
Evidence at trial showed that Sumner responded to two internet ads in October 2011, each indicating that a fourteen-year-old girl was interested in sexual activity. Sumner quickly focused on one girl, saying that he did not want trouble, but “would love to teach” her [about sex]. After several hours of electronic messaging, Sumner drove from his Thomasville residence to an undercover location in Tallahassee to engage in sex with the “fourteen-year-old.” He was arrested at 2:30 on the morning of October 13, 2011. Sumner brought condoms, a variety of sexual paraphernalia, and narcotic drugs to the arrest location. Both of the “fourteen-year-old girls” were in fact undercover law enforcement agents, working with the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (“ICAC”) Task Force.
The following day, Thomas County, Georgia, Sheriff’s investigators executed a search warrant at defendant’s plumbing business/residence, seizing two computers. According to trial testimony, the computers and defendant’s cellular telephone contained evidence that defendant was the person who communicated with the undercover agents. These devices also held approximately 85 images of young women in provocative poses, which were offered to rebut defendant’s claim that he was entrapped by the undercover agents.
Sumner faces a mandatory minimum term of ten years and up to life in prison on the enticement conviction and up to thirty years on the travel conviction. His sentencing is scheduled for August 29, 2012, before United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle. Judge Hinkle remanded Sumner into custody during trial.
Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, credited the success of this prosecution to the joint efforts of the agencies participating in the North Florida ICAC, particularly Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Ms. Marsh said, “We have no higher priority than the protection of the children in our community.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson, who is the Senior Litigation Counsel for the Northern District of Florida.