Child sex abuse sting in St. Helens catches man, police say
UPDATED: A 52-year-old man from LaPine was arrested Sunday, March 11, following a several-month St. Helens Police Department online child sex abuse sting.
Dean ONeill Cox of LaPine had been communicating with a St. Helens police officer who he thought was a 15-year-old girl through an instant messaging platform over several months, according to a Tuesday, March 13, press release from the St. Helens Police Department.
A probable cause record filed with the Columbia County Circut Court indicates Cox exchanged graphic and explicit messages, sent explicit photographs of himself, and acknowledged that the girl he thought he was speaking to was under age. The messages also contained descriptions of sexual acts, including sodomy, sexual intercourse and deviate sexual intercourse, court documents
On Sunday, March 11, Cox drove to St. Helens with the intent of meeting the girl in the general area of Highway 30 and Gable Road. Around 11 a.m. officers located Cox in a parking lot near Taco Bell. Cox sent messages trying to locate the girl he was expecting to meet, according to court records and police statements.
Cox was arrested and lodged in the Columbia County Jail on charges of online corruption of a minor, computer crime, luring a minor and unlawful possession of methamphetamine.
This case illustrates the dangers associated with online communication, the press release stated. St. Helens police noted that parents should continually engage children about online safety and know who is connecting with their children.
If children have online accounts, check privacy settings, the release continues. The default settings may expose children tomore information than parents would like. Change settings to the highest level of privacy.
You never know who is snooping around their social media profiles, the release warns.
Cox was still lodged in the Columbia County Jail as of Thursday.