Kevin Michael Francis, 62, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to sex traffic a minor and aiding and assisting the sex trafficking of a minor. On July 29, 2022, Judge Joshua D. Wolson sentenced Francis to imprisonment for 120 months followed by 10 years of supervised release along with a fine of $500. On August 30, 2022, Ryan Keel, 41, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to sex traffic a minor. Then, on September 8, 2022, Andre Michael Felts, 34, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to sex traffic a minor, sex trafficking a minor, and aiding and assisting sex trafficking of a minor. On September 12, 2022, a document outlining the terms of the plea agreement for Felts was submitted to the court. The document recommended 20-25 years of imprisonment, a mandatory minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a monetary fine to be determined by the court. The court ordered a pre-trial sentencing report. A few days later, Felts entered a motion to withdraw guilty plea and a supplemental letter to withdraw guilty plea.
As we previously reported on September 4, 2020, Andre Michael Felts, Kevin Michael Francis, and Ryan Keel were arraigned and charged by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. They were charged with one count of conspiracy to sex traffic a minor and with four counts of sex trafficking a minor. Kevin Michael Francis has plead guilty to all charges and Ryan Keel has plead guilty to one charge. The third defendant, Andre Michael Felts, had pled guilty to all charges but has now entered a motion to withdraw guilty plea and a supplemental letter to withdraw guilty plea. On August 25, 2020, all of the defendants were indicted with recruiting and advertising females, including minors, for sex acts using the website Backpage.com. The victims were also held at the defendants’ house and were transported by the defendants to sell sex to buyers.
The Department of Justice shared that this investigation was part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood was formally launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Through Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice aims to coordinate and cooperate with federal, tribal, state, local, and international organizations, and agencies to work to end the sexual exploitation of children
The CSE Institute applauds the Department of Justice and the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Division for their investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania for their work prosecuting these horrific crimes against women and children. Most importantly, the CSE Institute commends the bravery of the victims who provided valuable testimony in these cases. It is irrefutable that survivor voices will be the ones to promulgate change in the sex trafficking narrative.
The CSE Institute will provide further updates on this matter.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.