Federal child sex case: City man get 45 years, lover's charges are pending

Christopher M. Perry, 36, and Sarah R. Gates, 39, of Cortland/FILE PHOTO




The federal child sexual exploitation case against a city woman continues to progress, while her lover was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years in federal prison for his part in the abuse of their two-year-old relative, according to federal officials.

Sarah R. Gates’ case is pending in US Court where she is charged with sexual exploitation of a child, according to the US Attorney’s Office. Gates is not convicted and there is no date scheduled for a guilty plea or sentencing, stated a US Court Clerk this morning.

In a sworn statement to city police, Gates claimed her paramour, Christopher M. Perry, instigated the abuse. Perry was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years in prison after he was convicted of sexually assaulting the toddler multiple times in 2017 and photographing the assaults to create child pornography, according to the US Attorney’s Office. As part of his guilty plea, Perry admitted he conspired and acted with Gates in the attacks, the office notes.

Federal Judge Thomas J. McAvoy also sentenced Perry to 15 years of supervised release after he leaves prison, which is not scheduled to happen until 2065. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

City police Lt. Michael Strangeway said Wednesday that he was gratified Perry received such a long sentence, but could never be satisfied that any sentence would ever be enough for the convicted abuser.

“What they did to that child — I can’t think of a word strong enough to describe how despicable and sick these people were,” Strangeway said. “I can’t think of a sentence long enough for what they did, but 45 years is a good start.”

Perry first came to the attention of police when the State Police Computer Crimes Unit identified him as part of an investigation into the dissemination of child pornography, said Strangeway at the time of the couple’s April 2019 arrest. City police helped state police search Perry and a Hyatt Street residence using a search warrant, Strangeway said.

During the search, police found photographs and videos of Perry and Gates having oral sex with the child and the child being raped, he said. Other child pornography depicting unknown children was also discovered, Strangeway said.

Perry was prosecuted as part of a federal, state and local partnership called “Project Safe Childhood,” according to the US Attorney’s Office.

“One of the chief mandates of the PROTECT ACT and the National Strategy is to expand our efforts to coordinate and cooperate with federal, tribal, state, local, and international organizations and agencies in the fight to prevent and interdict in the sexual exploitation of children,” according to the Justice Department, referring to the 2008 law. “Working closely with each other, we will pool our intelligence and resources to ensure that those offenders who seek to entice and compromise our children are brought to justice.”

Anyone who discovers child pornography online — or any other internet child sex crimes — can be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s at report.cybertip.org