A Citrus Heights police detective posing online as an underage girl has led to the arrest of four men accused of attempting to entice a minor.
On April 25, the detective posted in a popular online forum posing as a “girl” who was bored and looking for someone to talk to. The “girl” made it clear that she was a minor, according to a Police Department news release.
Almost immediately, several males responded to the forum post and engaged in conversation that ultimately turned sexual in nature. Each of the adult males clearly expressed his desire to engage in sexual activity with the underage “girl” and each arranged to meet her in person, police said. One man also sent naked photos of himself.
At 1:50 a.m. May 1, detectives arrested Cameron Lovell, 27, of Sacramento after he traveled to Citrus Heights to meet the girl in person. He was arrested on suspicion of one count of attempted enticement of a minor and one count of attempted transfer of obscene matter to a minor.
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At 10:41 p.m. May 2, Gerald Lowrance was arrested at his home in Woodland after he made plans to travel to Citrus Heights for a personal meeting with the girl. He was arrested on suspicion of one count of attempted enticement of a minor.
At 7:30 p.m. May 7, Kevin Wood, 35, of Rancho Cordova was arrested on one cout of attempted enticement of a minor after he traveled to Citrus Heights to meet the girl.
At 5 p.m. May 9, Roger Wallace, 67, or Roseville was arrested on suspicion of one county of attempted enticement of a minor after he traveled to Citrus Heights to meet the girl in person.
Police said all four suspects face federal felony charges, which carry a statutory penalty of 10 years to life in prison if convicted.
Police cite research posted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that estimates 4 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds online received an aggressive sexual solicitation – from a solicitor who asked to meet them somewhere, called them on the telephone, or sent them offline mail, money or gifts. In addition, 34 percent had experienced unwanted exposure to sexual content.
Citrus Heights police urge parents to talk to their children about how they can stay safe online, set rules about what they can do and agree on how they should behave. Parents also can use parental controls on social networks, online games and browsers or software that can filter and monitor what their children see.