Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Leon R. Harrison, age 56, of Washington D.C., on charges of sex trafficking of a minor, for his role as a commercial sex customer. The indictment was returned on April 25, 2018, and unsealed today. Harrison has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, enticement of minor to engage in prostitution, and interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Andre Watson of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Tim Altomare of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; and State’s Attorney Wes Adams of the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to the three-count indictment, between August 9, 2016 and February 7, 2018, Harrison used his Facebook account to send messages to hundreds of other Facebook users, offering them money in exchange for sending him sexually explicit pictures, watching him masturbate, or meeting with him in person to engage in commercial sex. Several Facebook users told Harrison that they were under 18 years old, and as young as 12 years old. Harrison continued to make the requests even after they stated that they were minors.
Between October 9, 2017, and February 7, 2018, Harrison and Girl 1 allegedly exchanged hundreds of messages over Facebook. Girl 1 was a 15-year-old Maryland tenth-grade student. In the messages, Harrison repeatedly offered to pay Girl 1 in exchange for having sex with him. In twelve instances, Harrison offered her between $40 and $60 for sex.
On February 6, 2018, Girl 1’s mother discovered the Facebook messages and contacted the police. That day, an undercover police detective began operating Girl 1’s Facebook account.
On February 7, 2018, Harrison continued communicating with Girl 1’s Facebook account. Harrison stated that he would meet with Girl 1 that evening, and that he would bring money and condoms. Harrison stated he would pay Girl 1 $50 to have sex with him and made arrangements to meet with Girl 1 at a restaurant in Odenton, Maryland. Harrison agreed that he would get Girl 1 home before 1:00 a.m. because it was a “school night.”
When he arrived at the restaurant, Harrison had condoms, $50 in cash, and two 50ml bottles of flavored vodka in his pants pockets.
Harrison faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and for enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. An initial appearance has not yet been scheduled.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended HSI, the Anne Arundel County Police and the Anne Arundel State’s Attorney’s Office. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary A. Myers and Ray D. McKenzie, who are prosecuting the case.