This case serves as a terrifying warning about just how dangerous it is online for kids. Police in Tacoma, Washington arrested a 39-year-old Florida man who traveled across the country to find a 14-year-old girl he’d targeted for online sexual abuse.
Police said he spent months luring the girl into his web. He met her on social media and later sent a cell phone to her so she’d be able to message and text him privately. He lied and told the youngster he was only 20. He convinced the girl to send him sexually explicit images of herself.
When the girl’s parents discovered the phone, they immediately contacted police. Officers discovered that Samuel Leonard had installed monitoring software on the phone. He was able to track the girl’s location and even listen in on her phone calls and monitor her texts and emails.
Even more disturbing, police discovered he’d taken a bus cross country from Florida and was now staying at a hotel near her home.
A police officer posed as the child and told Leonard her parents had confiscated her phone. That’s when he offered to bring her a new one. Police say he purchased a new phone, rode to her home on a bicycle, and tossed it over the back fence for her to find. He was immediately arrested.
When police searched his hotel room, they discovered what they call an “abduction kit.” It contained ten sets of flex cuffs and two sets of metal handcuffs, as well as duct tape and electrical tape. He also had various sex toys and lubricants.
He also had multiple weapons including a gun, knives, and an ax.
Production of child pornography is punishable by a mandatory minimum 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison. Enticement of a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.