INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Three Michigan men were arrested after they agreed to meet with a girl under 16 years old for sex at a motel in Oakland County, only to find out deputies were posing as the girl online, officials said.
Sex sting operation
For the second time in two months, deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office set up an undercover sting operation targeting online sexual predators.
“Weeks ago, we arrested individuals for targeting young people for sex,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. “At that time, I said if you target kids, we are going to target you. Apparently, some people need to be told more than once. We will hold these predators accountable.”
Authorities said they used investigative techniques “known to catch the attention of would-be solicitors.”
As soon as the profiles for the fake girl were set up, hundreds of men from across the country reached out electronically to strike up conversations, according to police.
“As soon as they started this undercover operation, they got messages from all over the country,” Bouchard said.
The operation was orchestrated by members of the department’s Special Investigations Unit, Fugitive Apprehension Team, and Computer Crimes Unit.
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office also helped with the sting, authorities said.
3 men arrested
Officials said three men believed they were arranging to have sex with an underage girl they had met online. They set up meetings at a motel in Independence Township, according to police.
“They went looking for the child,” Bouchard said. “The discussion was criminal in nature, and then they showed up.”
When Prausa, Haritash, and Dingens arrived at the motel -- all at different times -- they realized they had actually set up a rendezvous with law enforcement officials, Bouchard said.
They’re charged with child sexually abusive material, using computers to commit a crime, and accosting children for immoral purposes.
The child sexually abusive material charge is a felony with a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. One of the computer charges is a 10- to 20-year felony, and the other is a four- to 10-year felony. The accosting charge is a four-year felony.
All three men were arraigned Saturday (July 9) at 52-1 District Court in Novi and then released on bond. They’re not allowed to have contact with children who aren’t related to them, officials said.
Haritash was released on a $75,000 bond, cash/surety or 10%. Prausa and Dingens were both released on a $50,000 bond, cash/surety or 10%.
Here’s Shawn Ley’s report on this story from Monday evening: