COLUMBUS — A registered sex offender from Lima admitted in federal court Wednesday that he trafficked a 14-year-old girl for sex in Columbus and sexually assaulted her himself on several occasions.
Nicholas S. Cochran, 28, faces a life sentence after pleading guilty to sex trafficking a minor, with mandatory imprisonment for doing so as a registered sex offender. Felony counts of exploitation of a minor and possession and distribution of child pornography were dropped as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, with a recommended sentence of 27 to 42 years behind bars and supervision for the rest of his life.
Cochran submitted his plea to U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson will determine a final sentence in coming months.
Cochran came to investigators’ attention in July during a search for a missing Celina teen, who had been tracked to hotels in Columbus that were known “human trafficking hotspots,” according to court documents.
A subsequent investigation connected online advertisements offering sex for payments to the girl and Cochran.
The teen, who was later found at a hotel in Lima, said she met Cochran online and had sex with him on numerous occasions, according to court documents. She also said Cochran posted nude photos of her online as part of prostitution ads and arranged for her to have sex at hotels in Columbus, Dayton and Lima.
Cochran eventually admitted the activities, estimating that he arranged more than a dozen “commercial sexual engagements” involving the girl, according to court documents.
Cochran was already required to register as a sex offender following several sexual battery convictions involving a minor victim in Henry County in 2009.