HARRISBURG — Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that over the past week agents from the Child Predator Unit have made arrests in Northumberland, Berks and Montgomery counties involving men accused of using the Internet to sexually proposition what they believed were 13 or 14-year old girls.
Corbett said that two of the suspects are accused of sending nude or sexually graphic webcam videos to what they believed were children, while another allegedly traveled from Maryland to Pennsylvania in order to have sex with a teenage girl. In all three cases, the men were actually communicating with undercover agents from the Child Predator Unit, who were using the online profiles of children.
Corbett identified the defendants as:
Randy Lee Hart, 40, Mount Carmel, Northumberland County.
John T. Bossert Jr., 37, Palm, Berks County.
Manpreet Singh Nibber, 49, Burtonsville, Maryland.
“It is vital for parents to understand how quickly online conversations can escalate to sexually graphic discussions,” Corbett said. “Often, predators send nude photos and explicit videos during their first online meeting, or quickly propose a face-to-face meeting for sex.”
Corbett noted that the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit has arrested 221 online predators since it was created in January 2005, including 44 arrests since the beginning of this year.
“We have seen a substantial increase in activity by online predators so far in 2009, with a nearly 40% increase in the number of cases compared to last year,” Corbett said. “We also know that summer typically triggers a jump in the number of incidents involving online predators, with many young people spending additional time online and longer periods of time home alone or unsupervised.”
Randy Lee Hart
Corbett said that Hart allegedly approached two different undercover agents from the Child Predator Unit, who were using the online profiles of 13 and 14-year old girls.
According to the criminal complaint, Hart repeatedly posed as an African-American man, sending nude photos to the girls and asking if they would engage in sexual activity with him.
Hart was arrested on June 10th by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by officers from the Mount Carmel Township Police Department.
Hart is charged with four counts of unlawful contact with a minor 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.
Hart was preliminarily arraigned before Mount Carmel Magisterial District Judge Michael Maychak and lodged in the Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $50,000 straight bail while awaiting a preliminary hearing.
Hart will be prosecuted in Northumberland County by Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sprow of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
John T. Bossert Jr.
Corbett said that Bossert allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach an agent from the Child Predator Unit who was using the undercover identity of a 13-year old girl.
According to the criminal complaint, Bossert acknowledged the “girl’s” age during their first chat, commenting, “wow, you’re young,” and “do your parents know you talk to older men?”
Corbett said that Bossert proceeded to send a webcam video that showed him nude and masturbating in front of his computer, later asking the girl if she had ever seen anything like that before.
Bossert was arrested at his home on June 18th by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by Pennsylvania State Police from the Reading Barracks.
Bossert is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor 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.
Bossert was preliminarily arraigned before Boyertown Magisterial District Judge Michael Hartman and lodged in the Berks County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 24th before Magisterial District Judge Hartman.
Bossert will be prosecuted in Berks County by Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sprow of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
Manpreet Singh Nibber
Corbett said that Nibber, a native of India living in Maryland, allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach 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, during their initial online chat on June 15th Nibber proposed meeting the “girl” for sex. Believing that the girl lived near King of Prussia, Nibber allegedly asked if she could meet him at a hotel near the King of Prussia Mall.
Corbett said that Nibber allegedly approached the girl again on June 16th, asking her if she had taken any “sexy pics” of herself and repeating his desire to meet her on Thursday, June 18th. Nibber also allegedly discussed the sexual activity he wished to engage in, commenting, “hope there will be no problem…coz u r too young.”
According to the criminal complaint, Nibber spoke with an undercover agent on his cell phone during the afternoon of June 18th, indicating that he was approaching the meeting location. He was arrested approximately 30 minutes later, driving a vehicle that matched the de scri ption Nibber had allegedly provided during the cell phone call.
Agents from the Child Predator Unit were assisted by Upper Merion Township Police during the arrest of Nibber.
Nibber is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, along with one count of criminal use of a computer, a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Nibber was preliminarily arraigned on June 18th before Magisterial District Judge Kathleen Valentine and lodged in the Montgomery County Jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bail. Nibber was also ordered to surrender his Indian passport to authorities. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 26th before Magisterial District Judge William Maruszczak.
Nibber will be prosecuted in Montgomery County by Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sprow of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
“Predators are aggressively using Internet websites, chat rooms, instant message programs and other technology to search for children they can sexually abuse,” Corbett said. “Now that summer vacations have begun, it is essential for parents to discuss online safety with their children, including the importance of reporting any situation where strangers engage in sexually explicit chats, attempt to arrange meetings or send graphic photos or videos.”
Corbett encouraged parents to monitor how their children use the Internet, including:
-What websites they use.
-What social networking sites they may frequent (MySpace, Facebook, etc).
-The importance of not sharing personal information with strangers (names, ages, addresses, schools or other identifying information).
-Avoiding strangers who approach them online.
-Reporting any contact with individuals who engage in sexual discussions or attempt to send graphic photos or videos.
Corbett noted that the techniques used by Internet predators change rapidly, spurred by developments in communication technology and changes in where and how children communicate online. He added that predators will communicate with children in many different ways, using public or private online chat rooms, instant message programs, text messages, email, cell phones and webcams.
“Predators will always be drawn to locations that give them the greatest access to the largest number of potential victims,” Corbett said. “Today, they stalk a variety of online sites, including chat rooms; social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook; Internet message boards; video game sites; and even online classified ads on Craigslist.”
Corbett said that suspected Internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit by using the “Report a Predator” link, located on the front page of the Attorney General’s Web site.
Individuals with information about potential Internet predators can also call the Attorney General’s Child Predator Hotline, at 1-800-385-1044.
Additionally, Corbett said that safety tips and other information are available in the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just for Kids” sections of the Attorney General’s website. Also, organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations, may contact the Attorney General’s Education and Outreach Office at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.