DuBois Man Among Five Arrested in Child Predator Investigations

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit have arrested five men during the past week, all accused of using the Internet to sexually proposition what they believed were children.
 
One of the men arrested was a 44-year-old DuBois man.

Corbett said that in one of the cases, a Montgomery County man allegedly took advantage of heavy snow and school cancellations in the Philadelphia area to arrange a meeting with what he believed was a 13-year old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit.

In the other four cases, Corbett said that suspects from Clearfield, Elk and Northumberland counties, along with a New Jersey resident, are accused of using Internet chat rooms and message-sharing programs to send sexually explicit webcam videos to what they believed were young girls.

“These cases demonstrate how quickly Internet conversations can escalate to sexually graphic discussions or plans for face-to-face meetings, sometimes within a matter of minutes,” Corbett said. “Internet predators are actively searching websites, chat rooms and discussion groups for potential young victims, and it is essential that parents regularly discuss Internet safety with their children and monitor their online activities.”

Corbett said that since its creation in 2005, the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit has arrested 196 men from across Pennsylvania, and as far away as Florida and Kentucky. To-date, the unit has a 100% conviction rate.

Corbett identified the defendants as:
Walter Morse Dewitt, 45, Delran, NJ.
Brian Heslop, 41,Schwenksville, Montgomery County.
Donald E. Jacobson, 44, Dubois, Clearfield County.
Shane Allen Washburn, 27, Johnsonburg, Elk County.
Dennis Leigh Bastian, 51, Milton, Northumberland County.

Walter Morse Dewitt
Corbett said Dewitt allegedly used an Internet chat room to contact an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit who was using the online profile of a 13-year old girl.

According to the criminal complaint, Dewitt allegedly sent the girl a photo of his penis during their second online chat, asking her, “have you ever thought of that before,” and telling her, “I want you to like it.”

Corbett said that Dewitt allegedly discussed meeting the girl and described in graphic detail the sex acts he wished to perform. Dewitt is also accused of using an Internet webcam to send nude videos to the girl and encouraging her to visit pornographic websites.

Dewitt was taken into custody by authorities in New Jersey on Feb. 25, based on information provided by agents from the Child Predator Unit. After waiving extradition, Dewitt was transported to Harrisburg on March 4 where he was preliminarily arraigned before Harrisburg Magisterial District Judge Michael Smith.

Dewitt is charged with five counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Dewitt was released on $75,000 bail. He was ordered to not have any unsupervised contact with minors and is prohibited from any use of the Internet that is not legitimately work-related.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 13th, at 9 a.m., before Harrisburg Magisterial District Judge Joseph S. Solomon.

Brian Heslop
Corbett said that Heslop allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach an undercover agent on February 26th, asking to exchange photos with what he believed was a 13-year old girl and telling her, “I only have x-rated pics.” During that initial conversation, Heslop allegedly asked the girl a series of graphic questions about her sexual experience.

According to the criminal complaint, Heslop approached the girl a second time on March 2, as the Philadelphia area was in the midst of a heavy snow storm. Heslop allegedly asked the girl if she had a school “snow day” and if her mother had left her home alone.

Corbett said that Heslop allegedly proceeded to send the girl several nude photos of himself. He is also accused of instructing the girl to masturbate and arranging to meet the girl for sex later that day.

Heslop was arrested by agents from the Child Predator Unit, along with Lower Providence Police, at approximately 2:45 p.m. on March 2, when he arrived at a predetermined meeting location.

Corbett said that at the time of his arrest, Heslop was allegedly driving a vehicle and wearing clothing that matched de scri ptions he allegedly provided during online chats earlier that day.

Heslop is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor (related to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

He is also charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor (related to statutory sexual assault), a second-degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Additionally, Heslop is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, both third degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Heslop was preliminarily arraigned on March 2nd before Collegeville Magisterial District Judge Benjamin R. Crahalla and lodged in the Montgomery County prison in lieu of $250,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 12, at 10 a.m., before Magisterial District Judge Crahalla.

Donald E. Jacobson
Corbett said that Jacobson allegedly used an Internet chat room to contact an undercover agent who was using the online profile of a 13-year old girl.

According to the criminal complaint, Jacobson engaged in a series of sexually explicit chats with the girl. Jacobson also allegedly proposed meeting the girl for sex and provided detailed de scri ptions of the sex acts he wished to engage in.

Corbett said that Jacobson repeatedly cautioned the girl to not tell anyone else about their sexual chats, warning her, “if anyone found out… I’d be put in jail.” Jacobson also urged the girl to get a digital camera or cell phone camera so that she could send him semi-nude or nude photos of herself.

Jacobson was arrested on March 2 by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by officers from the Sandy Township Police Department.

Jacobson is charged with six counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and two counts of criminal use of a computer, all third degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Jacobson was preliminarily arraigned before Dubois Magisterial District Judge Patrick N. Ford and lodged in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 6 before Magisterial District Judge Ford.

Shane Allen Washburn
Corbett said that Washburn allegedly used Internet chat rooms to engage in a series of online chats with an undercover agent who was using the online profile of a 13-year old girl. During a number of those chats, Washburn allegedly posed as a 15-year old boy.

According to the criminal complaint, Washburn used a webcam on six different occasions to transmit sexually graphic photos and videos to the girl.

Washburn was arrested on March 2 by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by officers from the Johnsonburg Police Department.

Washburn is charged with six counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and six counts of criminal use of a computer, all third degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Washburn was preliminarily arraigned on March 2 and lodged in the Elk County Jail in lieu of $25,000 straight bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 11, at 2 p.m., before Johnsonburg Magisterial District Judge George A. King.

Dennis Leigh Bastian
Corbett said that Bastian allegedly used an Internet chat room to contact an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit who was using the identity of a 14-year old girl. At the time, Bastian allegedly posed as a 17-year old boy.

During the initial online chat, Bastian allegedly asked the girl if her mom was home and then asked her if she would “like to see what I have in my hand.” At that point, Bastian allegedly activated a webcam and transmitted video of his exposed penis.

Corbett said that Bastian is accused of instructing the girl to masturbate and sending her video files of adults engaging in sexual activity. Additionally, Bastian allegedly sent a series of nude photos and sexually explicit webcam videos to the girl.

Bastian was arrested at his home on March 3 by agents from the Child Predator Unit. He is charged with 12 counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Bastian was preliminarily arraigned in Northumberland County Night Court, before Magisterial District Judge Michael Maychak and lodged in the Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 11th, at 10 a.m., before Milton Magisterial District Judge William F. Kear.

Corbett said that Dewitt will be prosecuted in Dauphin County, Heslop will be prosecuted in Montgomery County and Bastian will be prosecuted in Northumberland County, all by Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sprow, of the Child Predator Unit.

Corbett said that Jacobson will be prosecuted in Clearfield County and Washburn will be prosecuted in Elk County, both by Deputy Attorney General William F. Caye II of the Child Predator Unit.

Internet Dangers
Corbett urged parents to regularly discuss Internet safety with their children.

“Predators are using popular websites to search for potential victims, in many cases sending sexually graphic messages or photos during their first chat” Corbett said. “It is essential for parents to regularly discuss online safety with their children and encourage teens and pre-teens to immediately report anyone who tries to send them sexually explicit messages, photos or videos.”

Corbett said that some predators try to arrange meetings with kids, while others send nude photos or sexually explicit videos – often within the first few minutes of an initial online chat. Computer and cell phone technology makes it fast and easy to send messages or images, and many of the men arrested by the Child Predator Unit began sexually graphic discussions during their first online conversations with what they believed were children.

Corbett added that cold weather has increased the online activity of both children and Internet predators. Since the start of January, agents from the Child Predator Unit have arrested 18 Internet predator suspects, and agents have made a total of 42 arrests so far this fall and winter.

Suspected Internet predators can be reported by contact the Attorney General’s Child Predator Hotline, at 1-800-385-1044, or filing an online complaint using the “Report a predator” link on the front page of the Attorney General’s Web site.

Internet safety tips and other information are available in the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just for Kids” sections of the Attorney General’s website. Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations, contact the Attorney General’s Education and Outreach Office at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at education@attorneygeneral.gov

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