Share this article

print logo

'Monster' who victimized underage girls gets 30 years in prison

Robert Pritchett's victims sat in the first two rows of the courtroom Monday.

They were there to hear a federal prosecutor call Pritchett a "monster" who deceived and manipulated underage girls into sexual activity.

They were also there to see a judge sentence him to 30 years in federal prison.

"It's been almost a year and I'm still struggling," one of the victims, now 19, told the court. "I want to see him put away. To know that he can't get out would help me get past this."

Pritchett, 21, admitted victimizing four girls, who ranged in age from 14 to 17, as part of his guilty plea to a charge of producing child pornography. Three of the victims are from Buffalo and East Aurora and the fourth is from New Jersey.

"This happened when I was 15," one of the victims, now 19, told the court. "And after what happened, I've been battling demons in my head."

While the women addressed the court, Pritchett sat with his head on the table.

Prosecutors say the girls, all of them minors at the time, were victims of sextortion. They claim Pritchett used messaging sites popular with teens to connect with his victims and ultimately coerce them into sending photos of themselves to his phone.

"This is horrific conduct," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango. "But this is a case that also had a hands-on component that included rape, prostitution and fear."

In sentencing Pritchett, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo pointed to the fact that Pritchett knew his victims and was well aware they were young, vulnerable girls.

First arrested in July 2014, he was charged with raping a 15-year-old girl but made bail and remained free until his second arrest in early 2016 on federal child pornography and sex trafficking charges.

When a federal judge complained about Pritchett's time on the streets, Cheektowaga police said they believed the original case was strong enough to prosecute and convict him.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office declined to comment at the time but indicated the defense’s frequent requests for adjournments contributed to the delay in prosecuting Pritchett.

"The things that I've done, I can't take back," Pritchett told Vilardo on Monday. "I can never get back the innocence that I stole."

The FBI, which led the investigation into Pritchett, says the case is one more reminder of the dangerous relationship between teens, social media and sexual predators.

Pritchett also could face civil commitment as a "sexually dangerous person" after his prison sentence is complete.

There are no comments - be the first to comment