Boston Researcher Pleads Guilty to Seeking Sex With Alaskan Child

A Boston doctor avoided going to trial by admitting to a judge yesterday that he traveled to Alaska in 2009 with the intention of having sex with a 6-year-old boy. The Associated Press reports that John Mark Felton, a 47-year-old research physician, was to be tried Monday in US District Court in Anchorage. He decided instead to plead guilty as part of a plea agreement.

Felton had pled guilty to traveling to Anchorage on Nov. 16, 2009, to engage in illicit sexual conduct. At sentencing on Sept. 13, he is expected to receive between 20 and 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Felton was in a child-sex chat room on Feb. 28, 2008, when he began conversing with a man who he believed was offering his young grandson for sex. He told the man, who was actually an undercover agent with the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that he would travel to Alaska to have sex with the boy.

When Felton was arrested at the Anchorage airport, he had a Spiderman child’s costume.

The AP reports that Felton — who at the time lived in a luxury condominium in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and was vice president of clinical operations at a vaccine development company in Cambridge, Mass. — waited nearly a year and a half before reaching out to the man again. The trip was planned in e-mails over the next few weeks.

Felton, who at times trembled in his chair while seated next to his lawyer, was asked during the change-of-plea hearing if the facts of the government’s case against him were true.

“Ah, yes,” he told US District Court Judge Ralph Beistline.

Felton, a British national who moved to Boston in 2008, will have to register as a sex offender and will be deported when he is released from prison.