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Lancaster Man Arrested in Probe of Web Sex Predators

October 19, 2002|Wendy Thermos | Times Staff Writer

A 44-year-old Lancaster man was arrested in Las Vegas during an FBI sting aimed at sex predators who prowl the Internet for child victims, authorities said Friday.

Earl Roy Harvey has been charged in federal court with crossing state lines with the intent of engaging in sex with a minor, said FBI Special Agent Daren Borst.

The alleged "victim" in the case was an undercover FBI agent posing as a 14-year-old boy in Internet chat rooms.

Harvey's Oct. 11 arrest was part of a six-year-old FBI project, called the Innocent Images National Initiative, whose goal is to snare adults who use the Internet to share child pornography or solicit sex with minors. "It's been very successful," Borst said.

Harvey is alleged to have begun communicating with the fake victim on Sept. 20, and to have suggested meeting for sex after only a few chat sessions. Agents arrested him at an undisclosed location after he drove to Las Vegas.

Harvey did not seek to verify the boy's identity. "Sometimes they want a phone call, and if they do, we arrange that," Borst said.

About a dozen law enforcement officials raided Harvey's Lancaster home Tuesday night. They refused to disclose what had been taken.

The FBI says it has been putting more resources into fighting Internet-aided child pornography and child sex exploitation in recent years. From 1996, when the Innocent Images program began, to 2001, the number of online child-sex cases investigated by the bureau increased from 113 to 1,559.

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