Clearfield County Man Arrested in AG’s Internet ‘Child Sex Sting’

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Tom Corbett Friday announced that agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit have arrested a Clearfield County man accused of sexually propositioning what he believed was a 13-year old girl, as well as sending a series of sexually graphic Webcam videos to the girl. The girl was actually an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit.

Corbett identified the defendant as Drew D. Bloom, 37, Philipsburg.

Corbett explained that the Child Predator Unit was created in January 2005 to conduct proactive undercover investigations in order to identify and apprehend Internet predators before they can harm children. Bloom is the 78th suspected child predator to be arrested since the creation of the unit.

Corbett said that Bloom allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit in August 2006, claiming to be a 17-year-old boy from Central Pennsylvania. During that initial chat, Bloom asked the girl a series of detailed questions about her sexual experience and then proposed that they exchange nude Webcam transmissions. He was allegedly attempting to send a “sneak peek” image of his genitalia as the undercover agent ended the online conversation.

Corbett said that Bloom allegedly approached the girl again on Oct. 12, 2006, this time sending a live Webcam video of himself masturbating and asking, “have you ever watched someone do it before?” Bloom also allegedly proposed a meeting and described in graphic detail the sex acts he wished to perform with the girl.

According to the criminal charges, Bloom engaged in a series of online chats with the girl between August 2006 and April 2007, sending her a total of four sexually explicit Webcam transmissions and repeatedly expressing his desire to meet for the purpose of having sex.

Additionally, Corbett said that Bloom allegedly requested nude photos and videos of the girl, telling her, “you need to get a phone cam (camera) or someone with a digital cam.” Bloom allegedly offered to send the child a digital camera or Webcam if she promised to send him pictures in return, but cautioned that she would have to be careful with the camera, telling her, “you would have to hide it.”

Corbett said that Bloom was arrested at his home at approximately 2 p.m. on Thursday by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by Pennsylvania State Troopers.

Agents also executed a search of Bloom’s home, seizing a computer, Webcam and electronic data storage disks, which will be analyzed by the Attorney General’s Computer Forensics Unit as part of an ongoing investigation.

Corbett thanked the Pennsylvania State Police, Clearfield barracks, for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.

Bloom is charged with four counts of unlawful contact with a minor and four counts of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Bloom was preliminarily arraigned Thursday before Clearfield Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland and lodged in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $ 50,000 bail. Bloom was also prohibited from having any unsupervised contact with minors or from using a computer.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 12:15 p.m., in Clearfield County Central Court.

The case will be prosecuted in Clearfield County by Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sprow of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.

Corbett urged anyone with information about suspected child predators to contact the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit at 800-385-1044 or visit the Attorney General’s Web site to file an online complaint.

“Parents need to understand that predators are actively using the Internet to seek out young victims — especially during the summer months, when many children are home alone for much of the day,” Corbett said. “It is essential that parents talk to their kids about Internet safety, and make it clear that they should never arrange to meet someone who approaches them online.”

Detailed information about Internet safety is available by visiting the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just 4 Kids” sections of the Web site.

Corbett noted that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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