PROVIDENCE — A 57-year-old man from Fairhaven, MA, was sentenced Tuesday to 97 months in federal prison for traveling in interstate commerce to engage in sexual activity with a minor.

Robert F. Eccleston, a registered sex offender, admitted to the Court that on July 12, 2016, he traveled from Massachusetts to East Providence, expecting to meet with and engage in illicit sexual activity with a 15-year-old boy he had been communicating with on the Internet.

Eccleston pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence on September 21, 2017, to travelling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.

Eccleston was also sentenced to serve lifetime supervised release upon completion of his term of incarceration.

At the time of his guilty plea, Eccleston admitted to the Court that on July 7, 2016, he responded to an online Personals/Encounters posting and photograph of a male who initially represented that he was 18-years-old and single. The online posting was actually posted earlier that day by a Rhode Island State Police Detective assigned to the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

Over the next several days, an HSI agent posing as the person who placed the online posting and Eccleston engaged in a series of Internet and email communications. The communications quickly became sexual in nature. The agent, posing as the person who placed the online posting, repeatedly told Eccleston that he was only 15-years-old, adding that he lived with his mother. As the communications continued, and believing that he was actually communicating with a 15-year-old, Eccleston asked for photographs of the boy, including an explicit nude photograph.

According to court documents and information presented to the Court, at Eccleston’s urging, the two agreed to meet in East Providence on July 12, 2016, to engage in sexual activity. ICAC task force members and HSI agents arrested Eccleston near the location where he believed that he would meeting with the 15-year-old boy.

Eccleston has been detained in federal custody since his arrest on July 12, 2016.

According to court records, Eccleston was ordered to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts in 2006, following his conviction on charges that he raped a person under 18.

United States Attorney's Office

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