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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

U.S. sheriff posed as girl online to catch offender

A Westman man — who used the Internet and his cellphone to talk dirty to young girls and tried to coax them into sending him nude photos of themselves — got caught when he failed to realize one of his “victims” was actually a policeman.

It was a United States sheriff posing online as a young girl from Colorado who caught the offender. But the investigation that followed located real victims, including one right here in Westman.

The Westman girl was 12 years old when the man would text her and ask her to perform sex acts on him.

“This was someone who was very much preyed upon,” Crown attorney Deidre Badcock said during the man’s recent sentencing.

A publication ban prevents the printing of any information that could identify the victims. As a result, the Brandon Sun isn’t naming the offender or his small community because it could identify the 12-year-old girl who was known to him.

In March, the man pleaded guilty to three counts of luring a child in order to commit an offence — in these cases, the luring involved invitation to sexual touching and possession of child porn.

The offences were committed between June 2010 and December 2011. Last week, Judge John Combs sentenced the 31-year-old to 18 months in jail followed by two years of probation.

The crimes came to light when, between March 26, 2011, and April 11, 2011, the man sent online messages to what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. It turned out to be a Colorado-based sheriff who was posing online as a girl.

The offender wasn’t honest about his identity either. During his chats with “Miranda” of Rollinsville, Colo. — first over a chat website and then Yahoo Messenger — the 29-year-old claimed to be a 17-year-old Manitoba boy (although, he’d later tell her he was 25).

Even though the made-up Miranda told the offender she was 14, he would repeatedly ask her sex-related questions and ask her to send nude or sexually explicit photos of herself to him via instant message. He also sent her (in reality, police) photos of himself, including sexually explicit ones.

The man was tracked down to his Westman home using his Internet protocol address, and he was arrested following a raid of his residence by members of the RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

The accused admitted that he knew “Miranda” was 14, but hadn’t realized she was actually a police officer. The charge the man pleaded guilty to simply requires that the offender believe that the person he is trying to lure is under 16 years old.

He also admitted to having an online “relationship” with a real 17-year-old girl who he’d spoken with over webcam, adding that they’d exposed private parts to each other. He further admitted that he had photos of the girl naked.

On the offender’s iPad, investigators found a picture of the girl, which was embedded with her full name and she was tracked down to southern Ontario.

They also found a record of sexual online chats, which suggest they were using a webcam (although it didn’t record a saved video). The man would ask the girl to take off her clothes or expose herself, and one chat suggests he’d exposed himself to her.

He admitted to knowing the girl was under 18 years old at the time.

Sexually explicit chats with the girl from between Oct. 10, 2011, and Nov. 9, 2011, were also found on the man’s phone, and a photo of the topless girl that dated from Sept. 10, 2011, (far in advance of her 17th birthday). That photo constitutes child porn under the Criminal Code.

There was also evidence that the man had made a number of calls to the girl’s cellphone in November 2011.

Police also found 300 non-sexual photos of another girl. Given the number of photos, police were concerned and located the girl, who had once lived in Westman.

When she lived here, the 12-year-old girl had a boyfriend whom the offender would drive to her house to visit. The offender was given the girl’s phone number so she could text him when she wanted to visit her boyfriend.

The offender would talk dirty to the girl and tell her she’d have to “do stuff” to get him to give her boyfriend a ride, a demand which the girl refused.

Even after the girl and her boyfriend broke up, the man would text dirty messages to her, and ask her to perform sex acts on him and send nude photos of herself. The girl would reject the messages and never agreed to the man’s requests.

Despite the above facts, which the offender agreed with when he entered his pleas, he denies being attracted to young girls and maintains he didn’t mean to chat with young females. He maintains they looked older than they actually were.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @IanHitchen

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 4, 2014

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A Westman man — who used the Internet and his cellphone to talk dirty to young girls and tried to coax them into sending him nude photos of themselves — got caught when he failed to realize one of his “victims” was actually a policeman.

It was a United States sheriff posing online as a young girl from Colorado who caught the offender. But the investigation that followed located real victims, including one right here in Westman.

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A Westman man — who used the Internet and his cellphone to talk dirty to young girls and tried to coax them into sending him nude photos of themselves — got caught when he failed to realize one of his “victims” was actually a policeman.

It was a United States sheriff posing online as a young girl from Colorado who caught the offender. But the investigation that followed located real victims, including one right here in Westman.

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