Crime and Justice

Ex-CNN producer seeks plea deal in child sexual abuse case in Vermont

John Griffin. Police photograph

Ex-CNN producer John Griffin, facing child sexual abuse charges in Vermont, is hoping to resolve the case against him through a plea deal, his attorney said in a court filing this week. 

“The parties are presently in plea negotiations to resolve this case,” David Kirby, Griffin’s lawyer, wrote in the filing. He said Griffin is not filing any motions “at present” and is instead pursuing a resolution. 

Terms of any plea deal were not disclosed in the two-page filing submitted Monday in U.S. District Court in Burlington. In his filing, Kirby asked the judge to hold off on any motion deadlines to allow for the plea negotiations to continue.

“The running of the Speedy-Trial clock is putting undue pressure on the parties to resolve the matter, making it difficult to achieve a thoughtful resolution,” Kirby wrote, referring to legal time limits for various stages of a federal criminal prosecution. 

There have been no hearings held in Griffin’s case since his arraignment in December 2021. Kirby noted Griffin is currently in custody “serving time that will be counted toward whatever sentence he will receive.”

Griffin, 45, formerly of Stamford, Connecticut, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Burlington that month to three charges of “using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity.”

He has been held in custody since that hearing awaiting trial. 

On each count, if convicted, Griffin faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

According to charging documents, Griffin is accused of luring a mother from Nevada and her 9-year-old child in July 2020, paying more than $3,000 for their travel to Ludlow, where he forced the girl into unlawful sexual acts. 

He also allegedly unsuccessfully tried to lure other parents online to travel to Vermont with their daughters, according to the indictment against him.  

Griffin, a veteran CNN producer, was fired from his job with the cable news network following his arrest.

Federal prosecutors did not object to pushing back deadlines for filing motions in the case in order to allow the plea talks to proceed, according to the filing in the case this week by Kirby, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Vermont.

Judge William K. Sessions III approved the request Tuesday, and scheduled a hearing for Nov. 28 for a change of a plea hearing should the parties reach an agreed upon resolution, court documents showed. If no resolution is reached, the judge said that the hearing would instead serve as a pretrial conference.

Kirby, reached Tuesday, declined to comment on the status of the plea talks. 

U.S. Attorney for Vermont Nikolas Kerest’s office is prosecuting Griffin.

“I thought attorney Kirby made a pretty detailed filing so we’re just going to have to rely on what’s in the public record on that,” Kerest said, declining further comment.

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