Conference Held On Internet Crimes Against Children Sting - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Conference Held On Internet Crimes Against Children Sting

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A press conference was held on Friday where  law enforcement agencies explained an operation in which they arrested seven people for allegedly soliciting sexual activity with undercover police officers, posing as a 12-year-old girl.

A week long investigation comes to a conclusion, and law enforcement agencies across the state said it's now apparent, predators on the internet are a threat to the children of Montana.

"The operation was designed to proactively address the violence that can come to those who are most vulnerable in our community," said Missoula Police Chief Mike Brady.

In a three day operation, six men and one woman were arrested and appeared in court Friday. Police said each of the suspects responded to an ad officers posted on Tuesday, posing as a 12-year-old girl looking to have sex.

"We wanted to send message that if you post it, respond to a post of it, or send images across the internet, there's a good chance you're dealing with one of us and that's the message we wanted to send," said MT ICAC Task Force Coordinator Tim West.

The operation involved the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Missoula Police Department, Missoula County Sheriff's Office and county attorney's office.

"We chose to be proactive and identify and hold those accountable who would do such a thing in this area."

The men are charged with sexual abuse of children, and a woman, Jenna Davis, is charged with conspiracy to commit that crime. Each of the suspects was arrested when they arrived for a supposed meeting with the girl at a house in Missoula.

"We certainly sent a message to the seven people we've arrested and identified, all previously unknown, which is a scary part."

Court documents show Davis solicited sex from the girl on behalf of her boyfriend, while 54-year-old Neal Gray allegedly brought rope, handcuffs and a whip he wanted to use with the 12-year-old.

Bail is set at $25,000 for Davis and three of the other suspects. It was raised to $75,000 for Gray.

Officers say they will continue these types of operations in the future in the hopes of keeping the internet safe for Montana children.

"I want to speak to the men who think its alright to victimize children. We will find you, we will arrest you and we will lock you away for as long as the law will allow."

All of the suspects will appear again in court on January 2.

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