(Headline USA) A former CNN television producer pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to using interstate commerce to entice and coerce a 9-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity at his Vermont ski house.
As part of the plea deal, the government will drop the two remaining counts of enticement of a minor against John Griffin, 45, of Stamford, Connecticut.
According to the plea deal, Griffin met a woman on a website during the summer of 2020 and persuaded the woman to bring her 9-year-old daughter to his Ludlow, Vermont, ski home for illegal sexual activity.
Griffin paid the woman and girl to fly from Nevada to Boston, picked them up and drove them to his Vermont home where the girl said Griffin sexually assaulted her, court records say.
Griffin was arrested on Dec. 10, 2021, a day after he was indicted by a grand jury. He originally pleaded not guilty to three counts.
Griffin worked for CNN for about eight years but was fired after he was arrested, the network said last year.
He faces a possible sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison when he is sentenced on March 20, 2023. He must pay full restitution to the victims, an amount which will be determined by the court.
He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 and other fees and has agreed to forfeit a Tesla vehicle, and electronic items and to donate half of the proceeds from the sale of his Vermont home and the upcoming sale of a Mercedes vehicle into the court registry.
He also faces a term of five years to life on supervised release, with conditions, including that he participate in a sex offender evaluation and treatment and register as a sex offender.
He also cannot have contact with people under the age of 18, except in the presence of a responsible adult who has been approved by a probation officer, and is prohibited from being in areas where children congregate, such as schools, playgrounds and theme parks, unless approved by the probation office beforehand.
Griffin’s arrest appeared to be the catalyst in a dramatic downfall, ushering the way for a series of reckonings with the far-left network’s troubling approach to ethics during the tenure of former CNN boss Jeff Zucker, who himself became embroiled in one of the resulting scandals and was forced out.
Another casualty was top prime-time host Chris Cuomo, ostensibly over the conflicts of interest he faced in reporting on the personal scandals of his brother, ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while trying behind the scenes to manage the disgraced governor’s public-relations campaign.
Chris Cuomo, like his brother, also faced credible sexual-harassment allegations that may have played a contributing factor in his downfall.
The scandals helped tarnish CNN’s image, but its breathless propaganda-like coverage may have done more harm to the network’s reputation. With its numbers and revenue continuing to decline in the post-Trump era, new CNN chief Chris Licht laid off or demoted several other marquee names from the lineup.
He fired former chief media correspondent Brian Stelter and shifted former prime-time host Don Lemon—who was often known for his transitional banter with Cuomo and his bombastic commentary—to a morning slot.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press