Ex-university professor who tried to hire teen for sex in Kansas City had KU ties

A former Ohio professor convicted this week of trying to hire a teen prostitute in Missouri previously studied and worked as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas and regularly returned to this area.

Kevin C. Armitage, 53, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to crossing state lines to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in May 2018.

Armitage was visiting Lawrence when he drove to Kansas City, Mo., to have sex with someone he thought was a 14-year-old prostitute but who really was an undercover law enforcement agent posing as one, he admitted in a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

While that encounter is the only one Armitage stands convicted of, he also admitted he was an avid user of a website — well-known by law enforcement — where members share information to find sex-for-hire and reviews of their encounters.

“The defendant was a ‘senior’ member of the website with 576 postings under his user name,” the plea agreement states. “These postings detailed his prior experiences with prostitutes in Ohio, Arizona, Tijuana, Kansas, and Colorado.”

On that website, Armitage went by the username “CletusTheYokel,” according to the affidavit with his federal indictment.

Armitage was a graduate student at KU from 1995 until 2004, university spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson confirmed. He earned a master’s degree in American studies in 2001 and a doctorate in history in 2004.

Armitage was employed as a graduate teaching assistant off and on from fall 1996 through spring 2002, Barcomb-Peterson said. He also was a continuing and distance education course instructor from 2003 until 2007, but Barcomb-Peterson said it wasn’t clear from records whether that role involved teaching KU students or rather professionals doing continuing education work at KU.

At the time of his arrest, Armitage was a professor of American studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, according to a federal court news release.

He resigned that position in June 2018, just before his indictment became public, according to the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. A Miami University spokeswoman told the paper that the school was “appalled and shocked” by the allegations, especially since they involved conduct that would endanger a minor.

According to his plea agreement filed in federal court:

In a message on the sex trafficking website, Armitage responded to an offer for a prostitute who was “super young” and a runaway. He said he visited the Kansas City area “regularly” and called the tip “great intel.”

After getting the phone number of the female undercover agent posing as the girl, Armitage told her he was from Ohio but that he was traveling to Lawrence, and discussed days when he could meet for sex.

As instructed, Armitage showed up with cash and a condom at a Kansas City restaurant where he was to meet the girl’s cousin to get the address where he could meet the girl.

“They agreed on a quick visit in exchange for $100,” and Armitage was arrested.

He could face up to 30 years in prison, according to the plea agreement. According to court documents, Armitage is in custody and his sentencing is set for August 15 in Kansas City.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd