Man Faces Sex Crime Charges After Internet Chats With Teens

The Internet makes the world a small place. Arizona residents are able to buy from almost anywhere in the world, communicate instantly with those across the globe and share information and images at the click of a button. In some cases, that ability is used to commit sex crimes, and the same technology that makes the world smaller allows law enforcement to track online crimes.

For one Arizona man, a comment in a chat with one teen led to sex offense charges. The man, who was arrested Jan. 16, is being charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation. The minor in question is a 17-year-old boy in Brazil.

According to police, authorities recovered computer and cellphone evidence that revealed the 53-year-old man held ongoing conversations with the boy. At the time, the man was a bishop with the Mormon church and was working for Educatius International. The organization arranges foreign-exchange student studies, primarily in the U.S.

Police say the conversations between the man and the 17-year-old included graphic sexual discussions and may have involved the exchange of nude pictures. During the conversations, the man talked about his fear of going to jail if he was caught. He also discussed how the relationship would impact his family and social standing. Police say the man discussed going to Brazil or arranging for the 17-year-old to visit him as a foreign-exchange student.

According to investigators, they were first alerted to possible inappropriate activity when a different boy made a complaint. According to a 16-year-old Brazilian boy, the 53-year-old man asked for hugs and kisses during conversations, which made the boy uncomfortable. The boy's complaint led to Educatius International confiscating computer equipment from the man and suspending him.

The man is facing criminal charges and has been removed as a bishop in his church. Internet sex crime charges are serious allegations that carry the possibility of long-term legal and social consequences. Anyone facing such allegations should work to understand his or her rights and what can be done to defend oneself against the charges.

Source: The Republic, "Former Mormon bishop accused of trying to lure teens" Jim Walsh, Jan. 23, 2014

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