Officials catch Internet sexual predator on first day of sting

An attempt by Saline County law enforcement officers to trap Internet sexual predators resulted in the arrest of a man in the program’s first day of operation.

Troy S. McDonald, 33, of Overton, was arrested at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday in Crete on suspicion of enticement by an electronic communications device, a Class IV felony, and sexual assault by use of a computer, a Class IIIA felony, after he attempted to meet who he thought was a 13-year-old female for sexual activity in Crete.

However, the person McDonald contacted in the chat room was actually a deputy with the Saline County Sheriff’s Office posing as a young girl as part of a sting operation aimed at protecting children from online predators.

Saline County Sheriff Alan Moore said the program is something he has wanted to start for sometime. While Internet predators are not a major issue in the county, Moore said his office has occasionally received complaints from parents concerned about unsolicited online messages their children had received.

“We have tried to be proactive about catching some of the people who use chat lines,” Moore said. “Wednesday was actually the first day we went about this.”

After working with an investigator with the Nebraska State Patrol who showed deputies how to capture such online criminals, the deputy began creating a fake profile as the 13-year-old girl Wednesday and was soon contacted by McDonald. Moore said because the deputy was able to convince McDonald that he was talking to a 13-year-old girl, McDonald soon posted his phone number in the chat room, which led officers to confirm his identity.

While Moore said the sheriff’s department cannot monitor for online predators all the time, he said his office will continue to use similar methods to catch online criminals in the future.

Moore said even though catching a predator that quickly is somewhat unusual, it is still gratifying to know the online chat led to an arrest and not an abduction.

“Because we are a relatively small law enforcement agency, we can’t always devote one person to this, but stopping crimes like this is something we are at least trying to explore,” Moore said.

No charges had been filed against McDonald as of Monday afternoon. However, if McDonald is convicted on the charges on which he was arrested, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. McDonald would also be required to register as a sex offender under Nebraska law.

Published in: on November 27, 2007 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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