Online predator receives maximum sentence

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A Houston man received a 20-year prison sentence for trying to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said Joshua Andrew Jones, 36, plead guilty to Online Solicitation of a Minor, and Montgomery County Judge Phil Grant imposed the maximum sentence.

In April of 2017, Detective Jerry Serratt with the Montgomery County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office was monitoring the social media application “Kik,” which is sometimes used by sexual predators to target children. In a Kik group aimed at teenagers, Serratt saw the defendant claiming to be an 18-year-old,even though his profile picture was obviously of a man in his thirties. Serratt, posing as a 13-year-old girl, engaged Jones in an online conversation. Jones quickly turned the conversation sexual and asked to meet the girl. Jones came to an agreed meeting place and was taken into custody. Officers found four cell phones, cocaine and methamphetamine in the defendant’s possession at the time of his arrest.

As part of the investigation, Nikki Neeley, a specially trained investigator with the Montgomery County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, obtained information from Jones’ phone. During sentencing, prosecutors presented evidence from the cell phone, indicating Jones had talked to other underage children on Kik. The phone also contained an image of bestiality and child pornography. Jones’ internet history showed that he had accessed multiple videos with names including “young” and “rape.” Officers also found messages on the phone showing the defendant dealing drugs and soliciting prostitutes.

While out on bond pending trial, Jones was arrested in Harris County and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, a third degree felony. Following that, the online solicitation case was set for trial in April, but Jones failed to appear for his trial and was a fugitive for a month.

The case was prosecuted by Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Chris Seufert.

“This case is another example of how important it is to have specially trained law enforcement officers working to make the internet safer for kids,” said Seufert. “I hate to think what might have happened if Detective Seufert wasn’t there to catch the defendant before he could get his hands on a child.”

Under Texas law, Jones must serve 25 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

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