HARRISBURG — A Somerset County man, initially arrested in July 2009 after allegedly traveling to the Pittsburgh area to have sex with what he believed was a 13-year old girl, has now been charged with multiple counts of possession of illegal child pornography.
Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendant as Harlan Gene King, 27, Confluence.
Corbett said that new criminal charges were filed against King following an analysis of his computer by agents from the Attorney General’s Computer Forensics Unit. The computer was seized during King’s initial arrest on July 17th, 2009, after he allegedly traveled to Butler County for a sexual meeting with a 13-year old girl who he had approached on the Internet. The “girl” was actually an undercover agent from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
According to the criminal complaint, agents identified five images and two videos stored on King’s computer that depict children under the age of 18 engaging in various sex acts.
Corbett said that King was preliminarily arraigned today in Cranberry Township, Butler County. King waived his preliminary hearing and will be formally arraigned at a later date in Butler County Court of Common Pleas.
King is charged with seven counts of sexual abuse of children (related to the possession of child pornography), along with 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.
Corbett said that King is also awaiting trial in Butler County on charges related to his July 2009 arrest, including unlawful contact with a minor (related to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault), a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. King is also charged with unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene performances) and criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Corbett said that in June and July 2009 King allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach what he believed was a 13-year old girl from the Pittsburgh area, engaged in a series of graphic online chats and expressed a desire to meet the girl for sex.
King allegedly proposed that he pick the girl up at her home and take her to an amusement park with his family – urging her to claim that she was 18-years old. Following their visit to the park, King allegedly suggested that she stay overnight at his home so they could have sex.
King was arrested on July 17, 2009, when he arrived at a predetermined meeting location in Cranberry Township, Butler County.
King will be prosecuted in Butler County by Deputy Attorney General William F. Caye II of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
Corbett said that the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit has arrested 247 people since it was created in January 2005, all accused of sexually propositioning children online or sending nude or pornographic photos or videos.
“Predators have come from every corner of Pennsylvania, and as far away as Florida, Texas and Kentucky, all trying to use the Internet to have some form of sexual contact with children,” Corbett said. “It is essential that parents regularly discuss Internet safety with their children, including the danger of meeting strangers who approach you online.”
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 children.
“Predators are using popular websites to search for young victims, including Internet chat rooms and discussion sites created to talk about popular video games,” Corbett said. “They also use social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, looking for kids who are vulnerable or lonely, gathering details about their activities and interests and using that information to gain the trust of children.”
Corbett added that parents should also review new electronic devices that children may have recently received as holiday gifts.
“Many computers, cell phones and game systems allow Internet access or have the ability to send and receive messages, pictures and videos,” Corbett said. “Predators know that young people will be exploring new electronics, along with new games or new sections of the Internet, and they are searching for potential victims.”
Corbett said the best defense for parents is to regularly review Internet safety with your children and teens:
-Know what children are doing online.
-Understand the websites they use and who they are communicating with.
-Review their MySpace and Facebook pages or other online profiles.
-Talk to them about the dangers of face-to-face meetings with strangers.
-Do your own research – use Google or other Internet searches to see what your children, or their friends, may be posting online.
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, or by calling the Child Predator Hotline, at 1-800-385-1044.
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, can contact the Attorney General’s Education and Outreach Office at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at email@example.com.