CORVALLIS, Ore. – Police arrested a man on Monday after he made plans to meet with a 14-year-old girl for sex – or so he thought.
Corvallis detectives arrested 34-year-old Kevin Miller of St. Helens as part of an undercover operation. The department has set up multiple online accounts pretending to be minors. Police say Miller contacted an account that belonged to a fictional 14-year-old girl, asking for sex. Instead of a girl showing up to meet him at the Super 8 hotel as planned, police arrived with handcuffs and arrested him on charges including the online sexual corruption of a child.
“He actually traveled to Corvallis in communication with our undercover, and the sole purpose for his trip here was to have sex with a juvenile,” said Lieutenant Cord Wood with the Corvallis Police Department.
Lieutenant Wood, the head of the Investigations Unit, says the department received tips from the community about online sex predators. Six months ago, detectives set up their first an undercover account, pretending to be a female minor.
“We had some male sending nude pics of himself to the account almost immediately,” Wood said. “And that really said to us how prevalent this problem was.”
Because it is an ongoing undercover operation, police won’t provide many details about the types of profiles they have made.
“We have undercover profiles out there,” Wood said. “And the predators come to us.”
Wood says the department has multiple profiles on different types of sites. He says Miller has been communicating with an undercover detective for a few months. Though he was caught, Captain Dave Henslee with Corvallis Police says the department is continuing its undercover investigations.
“Victimizing young kids – whether it be males or females – the victimization of children in our country is deplorable,” he said. “And that’s something we take very seriously and we will do anything to stop that from occurring.”
In the meantime, police have a word of warning for parents.
“You have got to be involved,” Wood said. “You have got to know who your kids are talking to, and what applications are they using on their smart phones.”
Anyone using social media such as Facebook or Twitter can change the privacy settings to make sure only people you approve can see your profile.
“You never know who it is on the other line,” Wood said. “Who are you talking to and what is their real intention?”
Wood says the department isn’t just catching criminals in Corvallis.
“We’re actually catching predators coast to coast,” he said. “And these people are in violation of some pretty significant, serious, criminal statutes.”
Because the Internet is so accessible worldwide, Wood says the Corvallis Police Department has been teaming up with agencies nationwide to crack down on finding online predators. Wood says within the last six months, they have made dozens of arrests already, but there aren’t enough tax dollars to fund a larger operation than what the Corvallis department already has.
“If we could fund more detectives doing this, we could certainly make more arrests,” he said.
Wood says he hopes the crackdown makes predators think twice about the severity of online sexual corruption.
“I would hope that they hear about this and think about that as they go online,” he said. “Because you never know who you’re talking to. You might be talking to a law enforcement officer and if that prevents someone from abusing a child then I’m all for that.”