LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities said a San Pedro man responded to an Internet ad about having sex with a 13-year-old girl and now faces 15 years behind bars.
Joshua Paul Crouch, 28, of San Pedro was arrested Thursday.
Crouch was charged Thursday with attempted sex trafficking of a minor.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and other law enforcement agencies posted an online advertisement on the Internet using coded language in a ruse offering of sex with young girls. The advertisement used catch words such as “daddy,” “petite,” and “young.”
Crouch allegedly responded to the advertisement and was told by an undercover law enforcement agent that one of the girls advertised was just 13 and named Cassie.
Officials said the suspect wanted to have oral sex with “Cassie” in exchange for $60.
Crouch chose “Cassie” instead of a 15-year-old girl who was also offered up by the undercover agent. Crouch followed the directions provided by the undercover agent and was arrested when he arrived at the teen’s hotel room.
Officials said no actual minors were at risk or involved in the sting.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and victimizes large numbers of women and children,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This case demonstrates that law enforcement has changed its approach in combatting human trafficking, by now focusing on customers and commercial sex traffickers and by treating the women and children as crime victims. This defendant is one of the first individuals charged in Los Angeles under this federal statute, but he will not be the last.”
If convicted of the charge contained in the criminal complaint, Crouch would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years of imprisonment and a statutory maximum sentence of life.
Crouch made an initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and was ordered released on bond.