Fired CNN producer from CT to pay child he lured for sex acts $1.1 million

Stamford Advocate
Lisa Backus
June 21, 2023

Fired CNN producer John Griffin was sentenced Tuesday to 19 years in federal prison for luring a 9-year-old girl with her mother to his ski home in Vermont in 2020.

He was also ordered to pay the girl, who is suing him in Connecticut state court, $1.1 million in restitution, according to the United State's Attorney's Office in the District of Vermont.

Calling his behavior "outrageous," U.S. District Judge William Sessions III, said during the sentencing Griffin's conduct warranted a "severe penalty," according to officials.

Griffin, a former Norwalk and Stamford resident, has been held by federal authorities since his indictment in December 2021 on three counts of using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity.

Griffin was fired from his job as a CNN producer after the indictment. He is also being sued by the girl, who is now 11, and her guardian who claim the child was forced to commit sex acts while she was at his home in Ludlow, Vt. The lawsuit is expected to be settled soon, said attorney Joel Faxon, who is representing the child. 

The restitution will be used for future medical expenses for the young girl, Faxon said. He could not reveal the terms of the settlement, which will be finalized in the coming weeks, he said.

"Everyone involved wants to get this horrific incident behind them and focus on the healing of the young lady," Faxon said.

Griffin was once a producer for the Chris Cuomo show and was most recently a producer for CNN senior political analyst John Avlon before he was arrested by federal authorities.

The 10-page indictment issued by a grand jury alleges that Griffin frequently used Kik, a messaging application, and Google Hangouts to lure women with young daughters to meet him at the Vermont ski house he had bought with his wife to provide “sexual training” on how to be “submissive” to men. Griffin boasted during internet chats that he had trained girls as young as 7 years old, federal authorities said.

He sent a total of $3,350 to the adoptive mother of the 9-year-old for them to travel from Nevada to Boston where Griffin picked them up and drove them to his Vermont home, court documents said. At the Vermont ski house, “the child was directed to engage in and did engage in illegal sexual activity,” the indictment said.

Griffin used his personal wealth to target and abuse "vulnerable young girls," said Vermont U.S. Attorney Nikolas Kerest, who prosecuted the case.

The child’s adoptive mother who brought the girl from their Nevada home to visit Griffin pleaded guilty to attempted lewdness with a child under the age of 14, attempted sexual assault and child abuse. Hearst Connecticut Media Group is withholding the woman’s name to protect the child’s identity.

The woman was sentenced in April to eight to 20 years in prison on each count in Nevada, court records show. The woman is also required to register as a sex offender and have lifetime supervision, court records show. She was arrested about 18 months before Griffin was charged.

Griffin, who had pleaded guilty in December to one count of a three-count indictment, was also issued 15 years supervised release with conditions following his prison term, according to court documents.

As part of the plea deal, the government dropped two remaining counts of enticement of a minor against Griffin, then 45 years old.

His wife filed for divorce shortly after he was arrested and Griffin was required to sell the ski home and split the profits with his wife, with his share — $1.1 million — held by the court to provide restitution to the now 11-year-old victim. During the sentencing, he was also required to forfeit the Tesla he used to transport the girl and her mother from Boston to Vermont.