Crime

12 accused of arranging to meet undercover officers now face child sex charges

An undercover sex sting operation in Pierce County led to the arrest of 12 men accused of trying to sexually exploit children, and some of the men were in court Monday.

Washington State Patrol investigators recently posted sexual ads or responded to them online on multiple websites, pretending to be preteens or parents offering their children for sex.

The State Patrol says officers arrested the suspects when they showed up to meetings they set up with undercover officers in Pierce County.

It’s the second time the State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children’s Task Forc has done a so-called “Net Nanny Operation” in the county, and it’s the seventh done in the state.

Since the first sting in 2015, the operations have led to 86 arrests, and 21 children have been rescued. Troopers rescued two children during the recent sting, but the State Patrol released no details about how the kids were involved.

In some cases, the children rescued are with suspects when they go to meet the undercover officer, said Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez, who heads the Task Force. In one case, he said, investigators found a child who had been sexually exploited by looking at a suspect’s phone.

“We’re just mimicking what’s already going on out there so that we can protect kids,” he said about the sting operations. “Unfortunately, this happens for real.”

Suspects arrested in the recent sting were in court starting Thursday, and by the end of the day Monday, 10 had pleaded not guilty at arraignment. Bail was set at $500,000 for each.

The 10 are:

▪ Namulauti Petueru, 50 of Tacoma, charged with second-degree attempted rape of a child, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ John Schliep, 47 of Tacoma, charged with first-degree attempted child rape, second-degree attempted child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ Brad Lewis Henry, 60 of Shelton, charged with attempted second-degree child rape, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ Christopher Gartside, 27, charged with attempted first-degree child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ Erik Tanson, 48 of Gig Harbor, charged with attempted second-degree child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ Hugo Alberto Pena Ramirez, 34 of Tacoma, charged with attempted first-degree child rape and attempted second-degree child rape.

▪ James Willam, 57 of Renton, charged with attempted first-degree rape of a child, attempted second-degree rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ Kyle Weaver, 57, charged with attempted first-degree child rape, attempted second-degree child rape and commercial sex abuse of a minor.

▪ James Carter, 56 of Lacey, charged with attempted second-degree child rape, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

▪ Fletcher Kilpatrick, 27 of Kent, charged with attempted first-degree child rape.

A 50-year-old Lakewood man arrested on suspicion of attempted second-degree child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes is expected to be arraigned Tuesday (April 25), as is a 26-year-old Puyallup man arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree child rape.

The News Tribune generally does not name suspects before they have been charged with a crime.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

  Comments