Cortland County Woman Pleads Guilty to Child Sexual Exploitation Crimes

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Sarah Gates, age 39, of Cortland, New York, pled guilty today to a three-count information charging that she, together with Christopher M. Perry, conspired to sexually exploit, and sexually exploited, a child under five years of age for the purpose of producing images of the abuse.

The announcement was made by the Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and Kevin M. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

As part of her guilty plea, Gates admitted that on several occasions in 2017, she and Christopher M. Perry sexually exploited a child under five years of age while taking photographs using two cell phones.

Christopher M. Perry pled guilty to the same offenses on April 9, 2020 and was sentenced on November 3, 2020 to serve 540 months (45 years) in federal prison. 

Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy will sentence Gates on July 28, 2021.  Each of the three crimes to which Gates pled guilty carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of at least 5 years and up to life.  She will also be required to register as a sex offender.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the City of Cortland Police Department, and the New York State Police-Computer Crimes Unit, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sahar L. Amandolare and Special Assistant United States Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle as part of Project Safe Childhood. Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), and is designed to marshal federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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