Thursday, April 20, 2006
Attorney General Abbott Continues Pursuit Of Cyber Predators; Obtains Three Indictments, Guilty PleaAUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott emphasized the danger of online child sex predators after his Cyber Crimes Unit indicted three men and obtained a guilty plea from another for allegedly using Internet chatrooms to solicit children for sex.
In all four cases, the predators’ target was a person whom they thought was an underage girl they had met online. The “girl” was actually an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator whom each of the offenders allegedly arranged to meet for sex at various locations in Central Texas.
Grant Matthew Peanick
John Buford Jean
John David Payne
Video of Payne's Dec. 29, 2005, arrest
Video of Arrest
“All Texas families must be aware that child sex offenders are cruising the same Internet chatrooms and social networking sites as our children and teenagers,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Online predators will go so far as to set up a time, date and location where they want to meet and carry out a sexual assault on a young child. Our Cyber Crimes Unit investigators and prosecutors will continue their tireless efforts to stop these offenders before they can harm Texas children.”
John David Payne, who was an employee of the City of Brenham Water Department, was arrested on Dec. 29, 2005 after he arrived at a Bastrop location for a meeting he had allegedly arranged with someone he thought was a teenage girl. He was indicted by a Bastrop grand jury on April 18 on charges of attempted sexual performance by a child and attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Grant Matthew Peanick of Kyle was arrested on Nov. 22, 2005 after he arrived at a Bastrop fast-food establishment, allegedly to meet a child for sex. Peanick, a 20-year-old Austin Community College art student, was indicted by a Bastrop grand jury on April 18 for criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted sexual performance by a child, and attempted sexual assault of a child.
A Hays County grand jury indicted John Buford Jean of College Station on April 12 for criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted sexual performance by a child, and attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child. Jean, 33, was arrested on Sept. 20, 2005, after he arrived at a fast-food restaurant in Buda for his alleged liaison with the “girl.” At the time of his arrest, Jean was a manager at a temporary manual labor company.
Robert Lee Morris, 24, was surprised to find Cyber Crimes Unit investigators waiting for him on Nov. 2, 2005, after he showed up for the meeting he had arranged at a fast-food restaurant in Fredericksburg. A Fredericksburg grand jury returned a three-count indictment against him on Jan. 10, 2006, and on April 13 he entered a guilty plea in a Gillespie County state district court to one count of online solicitation of a minor and one count of attempted sexual performance by a child. He was sentenced to two six-year prison sentences to run concurrently and fined $2,000. Following his release or parole from prison, Morris will be required to register as a sex offender. At the time of his arrest, Morris was working as a baker at a Fredericksburg bakery.
“Online criminals depend on a parent’s guard being down, so I encourage parents to monitor their child’s use of online chatrooms and personal web pages to protect against unwanted solicitations and contact,” added Attorney General Abbott.
Criminal solicitation of a minor, online solicitation of a minor, and attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. Attempted sexual performance by a child is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Attorney General Abbott has made pursuing sexual predators a top priority in his administration. The Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators, has made 76 arrests since Abbott formed the Unit in 2003. The Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, has arrested over 270 such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 39 men on child pornography charges.
To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.