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PRESS RELEASE: Augusta Man, Randy Houston Mercer Sentenced to 30 Years for Producing Child Pornography

U.S. Attorney’s Office
December 21, 2015

Southern District of Georgia
(912) 652-4422

Augusta Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Producing Child Pornography

AUGUSTA, GA—Randy Houston Mercer, 57, of Augusta, Georgia was sentenced on Friday by United States District Court Judge J. Randal Hall to 30 years in prison, followed by 25 years of supervised release, for his role in producing child pornography. Mercer pled guilty to one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), in August. He will be required to register as a sex offender.

According to the evidence presented at Mercer’s plea and sentencing hearings, in January 2015, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) received a complaint from a minor’s mother which ultimately led to Mercer’s arrest. The evidence revealed that Mercer used the social networking app “Grindr” to meet minor boys, who he later met with to have sex. When first interviewed, Mercer admitted to exchanging nude and sexually explicit photos with at least one 15-year-old minor, and to engaging in sexual acts with him on multiple occasions. Numerous text messages revealed that Mercer engaged in sex acts with at least two minors on several occasions. During those sexual encounters, photographs and videos were created, which Mercer later sent to others.

When imposing the lengthy prison sentence, Judge Hall noted the seriousness of the offense and the very disturbing nature of the evidence, which included Mercer’s boastful manner when sharing the child pornography images over the Internet. At the conclusion of the hearing, Mercer was returned to the custody of the United States Marshal Service to serve his sentence.

United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver stated, “It is beyond shocking that an adult would prey on boys in order to arrange to have sex with them and to create images of that activity. It is impossible to know how many other children may have been at risk if Mercer had not been identified and stopped. Mercer’s serious crime was met with a justifiably lengthy punishment. There is no higher priority than the protection of our nation’s children. This United States Attorney’s Office will continue its efforts to prosecute those who endanger the safety of our children.”

This case was investigated by CCSO Investigator Brian Jones and the FBI’s CCCX Task Force, made up of Augusta-area FBI agents, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.

Assistant United States Attorney C. Troy Clark prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

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