August 1, 2008

Easy Prey: Kids Home Alone

By Kelley, Janet

To some people, planning for summer vacation means tickets to baseball games, trips to the beach, with pictures and videos capturing all the happy events. But for Attorney General Tom Corbett's Child Predator Unit, summertime also means more children spending time on the Internet - and a time for investigators to look for those who would spend more time preying on children using the latest computer technology.

Today, the Attorney General's Office announced a Lancaster County man was one of four men arrested for allegedly using the Internet to sexually proposition computer users they believed were teenage girls and send them sexually explicit photos and webcam videos.

The girls" were, in reality, investigators with the Attorney General's Office.

Monte Ray Schutter, 55, of 16 Egret Circle, Denver, used several computer names, including Santa Claus, to contact two different investigators - posing as 13- and 14-year-old girls - numerous times beginning in November 2007 through and including this month, according to court documents.

Schutter, arrested at his home last week, is charged with nine counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, investigators said.

Corbett, in a prepared statement released today, said the number of arrests in summer 2007 was nearly double the number of arrests from the previous summer.

Investigators noticed that an increasing number of Internet predators were questioning children about their summer vacation plans or asking them about times when they may be home alone, especially when they discussed meeting the children or sending them sexually graphic videos.

Predators will always be drawn to locations that give them the greatest access to the largest number of potential victims, Corbett said.

And Internet predators are keeping up with the rapidly changing technology, too, Corbett said, learning how children communicate online with chat rooms, electronic messaging programs, text messages, e-mail, cell phones and webcams.

Schutter was the second Lancaster County person to be arrested by the Attorney General's Office for allegedly using a webcam to transmit sexually explicit video, according to Nils Hagen- Frederiksen, a Corbett spokesman.

It is essential for parents to understand how quickly online conversations can progress from initial contact to sexually explicit content," Corbett said. Often, predators will begin a sexually graphic discussion within minutes of contacting a child, and many suspects transmit nude photos or explicit videos during their first online meeting."

Which is exactly what happened in the local case, investigators said.

Schutter allegedly contacted two different undercover agents from the Child Predator Unit who were pretending to be 13- and 14-year- old girls, sending nude webcam videos during their first online conversations.

According to the criminal charges, Schutter claimed to be a 20- year-old man from Lancaster and allegedly expressed a desire to meet them for sex once they turned 18. As the online conversations continued, officials said, Shutter sent the girls" multiple sexually explicit videos.

At one point, the online conversation between Schutter and one of the girls switched from sexual to innocent, when she commented on one of his computer names: Santa Claus.

I didn't no u played santa claus!" she wrote.

The three other suspects whose arrests were announced today were identified by the Attorney General's Office as Charles Dean Pensinger, 32, Chambersburg, Franklin County; John Lee Kerns, 29, Greenville, Mercer County; and Kevin Michael Cool, 25, Hanover, Adams County.

The three, plus Schutter, were charged with contacting agents who were posing as young teenage girls and sending sexually explicit photographs and videos, officials said. Cool also was charged with possessing child pornography, officials said.

Corbett encouraged parents to discuss Internet safety with their children, including the danger of meeting strangers who contact them online. He also advised parents to ask their children to show them what they are doing online and set ground rules for Internet use.

Last summer, Corbett said, investigators made a total of 17 arrests between Memorial Day and Labor Day, including men who traveled from as far away as Kentucky in order to have sexual contact with children."

In planning for this summer, Corbett's office initiated Operation Summer Surf," an Internet safety education program, to talk to children and adults across the state.

The Attorney General's Office provides educational materials and speakers free to schools and community groups. For more information, contact or call 1-800-525-7642.

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