Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Harris County Grand Jury Indicts Six Defendants for Targeting Children OnlineHouston – A Harris County grand jury today indicted six defendants who used the Internet to target underage teens. The indictments stem from an undercover investigation by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit and the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) affiliate. Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos’s office will prosecute the cases.
Omair Ahmed Khan, 26, of Houston; Travis Dale Chapman, 29, of Huntington Beach, Va.; Joshua Clayton, 28, of Cypress; James Raymond Watters, 26, of Houston; Michael Alan Blazek, 31, of Ennis; and Michael Leo Sadler, 53, of Spring, were arrested in May during the joint undercover operation. Cyber Crimes Unit and ICAC investigators assumed online identities that made them appear to be young teenage children.
James Raymond Watters
Michael Alan Blazek
Michael Leo Sadler
Video of James Watters' arrest
“All six defendants are charged with using the Internet to prey upon children,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Today’s indictments reflect cooperative law enforcement efforts by the Houston ICAC task force, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Cyber Crimes Unit. The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue working to protect young Texans from online predators.”
Khan, who indicated he is a community college student, was indicted on two counts of online solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony. Investigators arrested Khan on May 18 after he arrived at a Houston location, where he planned to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 15-year-old girl he met in an Internet chat room.
Investigators arrested Chapman on May 20 after he arrived at a Houston apartment complex to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl he had met online. Chapman faces a two-count indictment for online solicitation of a minor.
On May 21, Clayton was arrested after arriving at a pre-arranged location to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. According to investigators, Clayton claimed to be a photographer and offered to take illicit photographs of the teen during their meeting. Clayton was indicted on two counts of online solicitation of a minor, both second-degree felonies.
Watters, a movie theater employee, was arrested May 26 after he arrived at a north Harris County location to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 15-year-old girl he met online. During online chats with the “girl,” investigators allege Watters used a Web camera to share illicit images of himself. Watters was indicted on two counts of online solicitation of a minor.
Blazek faces two counts of online solicitation of a minor after he chatted with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl. Although Blazek did not actually travel to meet with the online minor, Texas law makes it a felony to “knowingly solicit” a minor for sex. State law also explicitly prohibits offenders from defending charges against them by arguing that no meeting actually occurred. Blazek already was in custody in Tarrant County Jail for online solicitation of a minor by the Fort Worth Police Department.
The grand jury indicted Sadler on one count of possessing child pornography. Investigators arrested Sadler May 28.
Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Third-degree felonies carry possible punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting child predators. Since 2003, the Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested 112 online predators seeking to assault young Texans. In addition to arrest roundups, Abbott also launched a series of town hall meetings statewide to educate parents and teenagers about the kind of criminal activity that goes on in connection with Internet diaries, chat rooms and social networking sites. For more information, contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.