Attorney General Shapiro announces arrest of Pennsylvania National Guard officer

March 21, 2017 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against a Hummelstown man accused of soliciting sex from a minor who told him she was 14 years old. The defendant is a chief warrant officer in the Pennsylvania National Guard in Fort Indiantown Gap.

Joseph T. Witmer, 51, of South Crawford Road, Hummelstown, was arrested Sunday evening by agents with the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section, after Witmer went to a predetermined meeting location to meet up with “the minor.” In reality, the minor was an undercover agent with the Attorney General’s Office.

Witmer was taken into custody by agents and police without incident, and charged with four felony counts of unlawful contact with a minor and one felony count of criminal use of a communications facility.

Noting Witmer’s National Guard status, Shapiro said: “No matter who the individual is, we’ll prosecute those who abuse children to the fullest extent of the law.”

Prosecutors charge that the case unfolded after undercover agents saw a posting on a classified ad website, advertising a “50M seeking Teen to play Monday only.”

The undercover agent, posing as a 14-year-old girl, responded to the ad, and communicated with the defendant over a number of days and posts. During that time, prosecutors charge that Witmer sent the agent a series of increasingly sexually explicit messages, and solicited the agent for inappropriate pictures.

During the exchange of back-and-forth communications, agents and prosecutors were able to determine they were coming from the defendant’s phone and email.

On March 19, prosecutors charge that Witmer made arrangements to meet the agent posing as the minor at a predetermined location and time. Agents staked out the location. When Witmer arrived, he was taken into custody and arrested.

Witmer was arraigned Sunday night, and bail was set at $125,000 by District Justice William Wenner. The defendant posted bail and was released pending a preliminary hearing April 6th.

“Every case involving unlawful contact or sexual abuse of a minor is horrendous,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Our Child Predator Section works night and day to take these predators off our streets. Every child’s safety matters to us.”

Shapiro urged anyone with additional information about the defendant or this case to call the Child Predator Section hotline at 1-800-385-1044.

Reporting Child Predators

In addition to calling the Hotline, individuals who suspect an online predator or child sexual abuse can send anonymous tips by texting PAKIDS + YOUR TIP to 847411.

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