Local Race Team Crew Member Arrested On Soliciting Sex With Minor, Child Porn Charges

Chris Merchant (Photo: Rhode Island State Police)

A longtime local race team crew member from Canterbury was arrested Friday in Rhode Island on multiple sex crimes charges involving minors.

According to the Rhode Island State Police, 33-year old Chris Merchant was charged with two counts of indecent solicitation of a child, three counts of electronically disseminating indecent material to a minor and one count of possession of child pornography. 

Merchant was arrested at a Warwick, R.I. hotel where he had allegedly arranged to meet a 14-year old boy. 

Merchant has been a crew member for a multitude of Connecticut based short track racing teams for more than a decade. 

According to multiple media reports, Merchant was also the vice president and a coach with the Plainfield (CT) Little League. 

According to a report in the Warwick Post“The arrest stemmed from an investigation by members of the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. During the month of January 2019, an individual later identified as Merchant engaged in a series of communications with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old male. 

“The conversation quickly became sexually explicit and he allegedly disseminated indecent material and solicited a person whom he believed to be a 14-year-old male to engage in sexual activity at a Warwick hotel.

“As a result of the investigation, members of the ICAC Task Force obtained a warrant for his arrest. On Jan. 25, 2019, ICAC Task Force members arrested Merchant at the hotel. During the arrest, ICAC Task Force members located child pornography on Merchant’s cell phone.”

The police report stated that: “At this time, there is no evidence of any involvement with members of the Plainfield Little League.” 

Merchant is being held on $100,000 surety bail pending a Monday arraignment.

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  1. This type of crime is turning into an epidemic.

  2. sour grapes of neverland says

    oh did someone say I told you so . that there were creeps in the pits .. predators.. oh I guess I did .. so there ..

  3. This headline gives local racing a black eye. No need to drag racing into his crime.

  4. Pervs among us? No mention of which teams he crewed for thank God. Creeps are everywhere. Keep alert keep our kids safe. Hope they put him in jail for a long long time.

  5. Most times you don’t know what these people do in their private life’s. I am certain the teams he worked with are just as shocked as others are to find this disturbing information out. Please don’t hold it against the teams for his bad deeds.

  6. Totally agree with Humphrey. Whatever teams he worked with should not be shastized for his behaviors. The world is a different place than it was only a few years ago. Keep your eyes open keep our children safe. If you see something say something, the life you save may be your own.

  7. sour grapes of LGBTQ ,tolerance and diversity says

    so its don’t hold the teams accountable for one guys behavior but slam a track owner for similar allegations???? my earlier posts stated there are those among us in the drivers seat, own cars ,,crew and who sit in the bleachers and yes OWN race tracks whos behavior is appalling and at time is unbeknownst to us….these people will have their day in court.. don’t punish those trying to support the business of auto racing because of one mans poor choices.. P.S. I would like to see what happens if he ( Bemer) is acquitted of all charges… or the charges are reduced to solicitation. .. but hey he`s already been tried in the court of public opinion (the media). where is the LGBT community? ..oh I forgot ..those “people” don’t associate with racing … someone coming out as gay might hurt their business or reputation in the “racing community” ..hypocrites’ all. PS we will see what happens to this guy who apparently had a stellar reputation BEFORE this incident …

  8. Hey, sour grapes of stupidity,

    If a race team hires this guy AFTER THE FACT, then yeah, I would NOT SUPPORT THAT TEAM. Key here is AFTER THE FACT. Do you expect us to do background checks on everyone before we support them? And you have absolutely NO IDEA who is gay or straight at the track. Drivers, fans, owners, crew, any of them could be. Makes NO difference.

    Anyone who willingly supports someone who supports human trafficking of ANY kind is themselves supporting trafficking. For those who are going to bash me, it is up to you if that time is when they are accused or convicted. I’m not going to bash anyone who will wait for a conviction, though that is not my choice.

    And you are an ignoramus for implying that those who are of a different sexual orientation than the norm are not people. ie those “people” in your statement above. Go climb back under your rock. It’s statements like yours that keep the LGBTQ community from OPENLY participating in many endeavors.

  9. sour grapes of tolerance/diversity says

    RICH C clearly you didn’t understand my point in the post.. my opinion is like football or other sports/entertainment endeavors people keep their sexuality hidden knowing it would effect them in a negative way . I am pro LGBTQ rights. however until someone is convicted (innocent until proven guilty) I am ok supporting a business that provide jobs, tax revenue and entertainment for the community. I have stated earlier that there are undesirable people of all orientations on and off the racetrack on any given weekend.. to deny there isn`t evil among us is just plain crazy. the fact everyone is shocked about this persons behavior is proof of that. same with Bemer . he was hailed as the savior of the bowl until his behaviors were exposed. this guy has very well known people as friends on face book so there ya go…the world is a dangerous place and every day whether you like it or not your hard earned money is likely lining the pockets of a deranged individual or owned entity. LOL just look at where your tax dollars go ..the most corrupt disgusting people are in politics.. open your eyes.

  10. Look, as Bemer goes, he’s already admitted to numerous nasty deeds over many, many years. If he is acquitted, it would be because of faulty police work or faulty prosecution. I hope the prosecution is charging him correctly, and is not charging him with crimes far in excess of what he already admitted to.

  11. sour grapes of sweet freedom freedom says

    good job da real ..set the expectation that its poor police work or prosecution that has the “john” walking free. LOL your a real piece of work good fella. the other two already in prison don’t have the deep pockets and were the “pimps”. Bemer a rich gay man /end user set up/ratted out by those who wish to take control of the track down the line …. how is that for collusion??? P.S.”charging him with crimes far in excess of what he already admitted to”
    then its plead down right??? already offered a plea deal no jail time .how much lower can you go than that ? a misdemeanor/fine ? why not call the prosecutor da real perhaps they could apply your wisdom to the case. LOL

  12. It’s been almost a year since the Bemer legal team rejected a plea deal and the victims rejected a proposed settlement.
    Ride-Ct.com 2/1/18
    “Attorney Anthony Spinella, who is Bemer’s defense attorney, told the “Hartford Courant” that the state’s case is weak. “First and foremost, the alleged plaintiffs have severe mental health and drug problems, ” Spinella said. “We think that’s seriously going to impede their credibility.”
    Spinella added that two of the victims have died and others have been in and out of jail since Bemer’s arrest. “Their case is getting weaker by the day,” Spinella said
    Bemer is accused of patronizing a prostitute and conspiracy to commit human trafficking.”

    Using binoculars from long distance it appears the defense is fixing to use the lack of credibility of these poor lost souls that were the victims to make Swiss cheese of the State’s case. Not mentioned are the alleged co-conspirators that have agreed to cooperate and are currently residents of State facilities. Aside from the emotion I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
    So in this episode of how bad our world is now Sour Grapes has volunteered to run point. Appearing to make the case that the stands and pits are riddled with miscrients and perverts simply waiting for the right time to pounce on the few innocents left. That all elected officials are crooks getting rich on the backs of taxpayers. That the only difference between the accused and most of us is that he was caught. It therefore follows that since we currently live in a dystopian world of corruption, greed and perversion that the accused is more typical and therefore should walk free.
    The guy does call himself Sour Grapes of Wrath after all and not The Lords Globes of Sweet Nectar. Aside from the screen ID that is probably one of the best ever with theme changes built in it all seems pretty pedestrian isn’t it. A kind of seething, vague rage at every facet of society and contempt for institutions that seeks to blur the line between right and wrong most of us grew up with.
    Call me Polyanna I’m not buying it. I believe most people are good and prove it every day, politicians may not all be perfect but most are well intended and our justice system is still dominated by people that have the highest standard of ethics.
    This case is simply bizarre in how it’s played out with more twists, turns and cautions then a road coarse. Will Sour Grapes cynical view prove to be the case or will justice prevail.
    Last lap fans in the one race we all can’t wait to be over.

  13. sour grapes of reality says

    doug ,just like rich c unable to comprehend the post(s) keep believing all the good in the world til it breaks down your front door or climbs thru a window in the middle of the night. what happened here was a crewmember a trusted confidant and racing buddy whos idle hands had him luring a child to a motel room for some extra curricular activities. guess he wasn’t talented enough to work on any cars over the winter and got itchy /idle hands (creep). I guess he just a spotter or a hang around on race day either way he`s at the track likely ogling children while you pat him on the back in the pits.as for Bemers lawyer. he speaks the truth challenged ,troubled drug addicted youth trying to support their habit. so unfortunate sad but true.. all while in the states care or custody ? why aren`t the families suing the state of Ct who certainly failed these “kids” and allowed them to be removed from state run facilities for the whims of gay men.

  14. Mike Desaulniers says

    What does this have to do with racing? Shawn is no race fan he is just scum looking for ratings he does not care about local short track racing.

  15. Mike,

    It’s pretty amazing to hear someone who is a current member of town’s school board saying that news about an alleged pedophile deeply involved in the racing community for many years should be hidden, ignored or covered up. I cover short track racing in Connecticut. “Covering” it goes far beyond only what happens on the track. I cover the racing community and the news that happens surrounding and involving the racing community. I get that so many people these days want all news to be positive, or sugar coated to make the negative seem positive. Sometimes the news isn’t good. I don’t control that and I’m not going to cover it up or ignore it because some people like you don’t want to see a story like this published about your friend. Considering your position with the school board in Windham, do you think it’s best that alleged pedophiles in the Windham School system should be ignored too? It sounds like you’re saying it’s just best to ignore that sort of thing rather than let people know about it.

  16. Well said Shawn.

    I see that Eric Trump is apoplectic because the press exposed that Trump golf clubs employ illegal immigrants. Wait until the hotels, vineyards and other businesses are investigated. Amazing since Donald wants to build a $100 billion wall to “keep out” illegals and alleges to be for strong borders.

    I would be highly suspicious of an outlet that only published puff pieces.

    And thanks, I like to know who I’m mingling with at the track.

  17. Viva race fan says

    Dare, he wants 5.8 billion not a 100 million . Mike really ? Shawn thanks , Court starts on Thursday. Lots going on .

  18. Mark Andrews says

    Oh my God Da Real!You can’t get anything right!

  19. That’s $5.7 Billion to START. It will end up >$100 billion if it went to completion. You would have to have someone read all the details to you to get informed.

    Viva, aka: 🧠-less, I never said 100 million.

    The headline does not give racing a black eye. It just shows that the black eye is already there.

    Mark Andrews, you really shouldn’t use your real name.

  20. So what’s the tale of the tape say.
    In the most recent 18 articles and press releases there 56 comments on two stories. This one and the Speedbowl stands update. A story that was a brief update on the stands but as usual attracted a lot of edgy, sharp elbowed opinions as well on the broader Speedbowl issues.
    The 16 remaining racing related stories garnered 22 comments.
    Clearly we in the peanut gallery prefer to weigh in on controversy rather then racing stories.
    The messenger having to take shrapnel on the very few stories like this is more a condemnation of we making the comments.
    Aside from the fact that what Mike Desaulniers said was ludicrous there is no excuse for using descriptive language like.
    Ratings indeed. For what? To get more people reading that don’t pay a dime for it.

  21. Doug, just because Shawn posts articles about other news relative to racing does not mean we have to comment on them. You read them and move on when they don’t peak your interest. If they peak your interest then you comment. That simple.

  22. Agree completely humphry. I’m not judging I’m merely counting entries. We all seem to enjoy banter on edgy, controversial topics then getting into the weeds on more mundane, purely racing stories.
    A really smart guy I know said it best. No one cares about that engines people are using or something to that affect and he was right.

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