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WF?man enters not guilty plea in 'grooming' case

 
Mona Sandefur
updated: 6/25/2012 8:32 PM

A pre-trial conference was set last week for Jeffrey A. Johnson Jr., 22, of West Frankfort in Franklin County court after a not guilty plea was entered in a grooming incident.

The West Frankfort Police Chief Jeff Tharp said his department conducted an investigation into a case of Johnson attempting to persuade a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship through contact on social media Facebook and through telephone texting.

"Examinations of all electronic communications revealed that the female clearly indicated that she was 14 years of age," Tharp said. "Johnson even acknowledges this fact. Initial contact was made on Facebook as the two had never met prior to this.

"Facebook contact led to private messages being transmitted on the Facebook outlet and eventually led to the exchange of cell phone numbers for texting," he said. "This led to numerous texts of a sexual nature being sent via text messaging. Johnson made numerous requests for nude photographs of the female."

Investigators contacted Johnson posing as the 14-year-old female. He immediately asked for nude pictures and to meet the 14-year-old for a sexual encounter, according to the police report.

Tharp said the investigator, still posing as the 14-year-old female, stated that she was only 14. Johnson continued the sexual conversation and his desire for her to maintain their relationship as a secret.

The state's attorney's office issued an arrest warrant and Johnson was charged with the class 4 felony. A pre-trial conference is set for July 5, with a Sept. 5 jury trial date slated.

 

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