HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced charges filed against two men for sexual offenses against children in different parts of Pennsylvania.
One of the individuals arrested is a Mercer County man charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl he contacted online. The other suspect is a registered sex offender accused of again downloading child pornography after a prior conviction for possessing child pornographic images.
“Pennsylvanians should know we will relentlessly pursue individuals who prey upon our children,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Protecting our children from sexual exploitation or abuse is a top priority of our office.”
The arrests were made in recent days by the Attorney General’s Child Predator Section, which works to identify child pornographers and apprehend predators who utilize the Internet to target children. Since Shapiro took office, the Child Predator Section has made 16 arrests spanning the Eastern, Central and Western regions of the Commonwealth. “We are working in every county in the Commonwealth to ensure our communities are safe from child predators,” Shapiro said.
Attorney General Shapiro identified the two men as:
According to investigators, Bennett made contact online with a 15-year-old girl. He is accused of sending at least 20 sexually explicit images and multiple videos to the underage girl, including nude images of himself.
The investigation also confirmed that on two occasions, Bennett had sexual contact with the girl, investigators alleged in a criminal complaint. After obtaining this information, investigators began a probe that resulted in an undercover agent posing as the minor. Bennett is accused of sending sexually explicit messages to the agent and arranging a meeting for the purpose of having sex with the minor. He was arrested at a pre-arranged location in Crawford County.
Bennett is charged with two counts each of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault and corruption of minors. He is also facing several other charges related to his attempt to sexually assault the minor on a third occasion and for his possession of child pornography.
Bennett is being held in the Crawford County Prison. His bail was set at $100,000. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 10.
“The cooperation and assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police were invaluable to our agents in making Bennett’s arrest,” Shapiro said.
This case will be prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Chuck E. Washburn of the Child Predator Section.
According to a criminal complaint filed in support of Waraksa’s arrest, agents with the Child Predator Section were conducting an online investigation when they located a device on a file-sharing network that was downloading images of child pornography.
Further investigation led agents to obtain a search warrant for a residence in Northumberland County. They learned that Waraksa was using the home — where a family member lived — as a place where he allegedly downloaded child pornography.
A preliminary forensic review of devices seized at the scene revealed numerous images and videos of child pornography. Those devices will undergo further analysis as part of an ongoing investigation.
Waraksa is charged with 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count each of distribution of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility.
Already a registered sex offender, he remains in custody after failing to post $300,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 7.
Reporting Child Predators
Suspected child predators can be reported to the Office of Attorney General by calling the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044. Individuals who suspect an online predator or child sexual abuse can also send an anonymous tip to the office by texting PAKIDS + YOUR TIP to 847411.
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