Prosecutors: Boone man tried to exploit children by getting hired at schools

  

PRESS RELEASE

STATESVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte has returned a 21-count superseding indictment against Frank Darrell Cromwell, 23, of Boone, N.C., charging him with enticement of a minor, production of child pornography, communicating threats, cyberstalking, and related offenses.

Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte, and Chief Dana Crawford of the Boone Police Department, join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

“This individual allegedly tried to gain access to children by obtaining employment in places where he could embed himself with underage boys, including a high school, a summer camp, a middle school, and a behavioral healthcare facility. Protecting our children from predators is one of our highest priorities. I urge parents to have a conversation with their children about the dangers of online communications and social media, where predators can use fake names and profiles to weave a heinous web of lies to lure young and innocent children,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.

According to allegations contained in the charging documents, including a previously filed criminal complaint, as early as March 2018, Cromwell used a cell phone app and other means to contact and entice minor male victims to produce and send to Cromwell sexually explicit images and videos of themselves. Court documents further allege that Cromwell misled the minors to believe that he was a female, by, among other things, using female names and images to entice the minors to produce and send to him child pornography, and to engage in sexual activity. To date, law enforcement have identified 10 victims. Cromwell met some of the victims through his Appalachian State University internship as an athletic trainer at Watauga High School.

As the superseding indictment alleges, Cromwell used the following names online and on social media to contact the young victims: “Savannah,” “princesssav222,” “lickmeup5020,” “Sav,” “frankie5020,” “Lauren,” “Sydney,” “Sarah,” “Lily,” “Kaylee,” and “Stephanie.”

If you believe that you or someone you know may have been a victim or have information related to the conduct referenced this case please contact the Boone Police Department at (828) 268-6938.

The specific charges against Cromwell are: nine counts of production of child pornography, which carry a minimum of 15 years and a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison per count; four counts of distribution and receipt/attempted receipt of child pornography which carry a minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison per count; three counts of enticement of a minor, which carry a minimum penalty of 10 years and maximum penalty of life in prison per count; two counts of cyberstalking which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison per count; interstate communication of threats which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison; advertising of child pornography which carries a minimum penalty of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison; and one count of possession of child pornography which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Each of these counts also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 per count.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray credited ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the Boone Police Department for their investigation which led to federal charges.

Assistant United States Attorney Emily Wasserman, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is in charge of the prosecution.

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