Alleged Internet predator is arrested in South Lake Tahoe
Driving up from Carson City, Timothy Randall intended to meet a 13-year-old eighth-grader for sex, according to authorities. Instead, the 58-year-old retired Nevada corrections officer was arrested on suspicion of attempted child molestation for allegedly propositioning a girl over the Internet.
“He was arrested right in front of Radio Shack,” said Chris Campion, an FBI Agent in the South Lake Tahoe field office. “He was picking her up after school, or that’s what he thought he was doing.”
Unbeknownst to Randall, the “girl” he met in a Yahoo! Northern Nevada chat room six months ago was actually a law enforcement officer. Randall’s arrest, the first of its kind in South Lake Tahoe, was the result of a joint operation between the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, FBI and Perverted Justice, an organization devoted to capturing sexual predators.
South Lake Tahoe police detective Chuck Owens, who is assigned to the FBI’s task force, helped arrest Randall at gunpoint. Owens said at the time of Randall’s arrest, the man was in his Ford Focus talking on his cell phone to the “girl.”
Randall checked himself into a motel room Wednesday night. Authorities gathered items in the room and in Randall’s car but would not identify them.
“We did collect evidence which was consistent with this crime,” Owens said.
Randall made $50,000 bail a day after his arrest, making his time short at El Dorado County Jail. His arraignment, where he will enter a plea to his charges in court, should be scheduled soon. Randall is widowed and has grown children, Campion said. He has no criminal background.
Besides attempted child molestation, Randall was also charged with attempted sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 14 and procuring a person by force or false inducement.
Since Randall crossed a state line for the alleged intent of having sex with a minor, he can be charged in federal court, which has stricter penalties than state laws.
Campion said Randall sent nude images of himself to the “girl” and “also some sexually suggestive pornographic images as well.”
A meeting was first arranged in February or March, but the night before the encounter the man saw a “Dateline” special on sexual predators and became fearful enough that the meeting didn’t take place, Campion said. But another “Dateline” special on the same topic Wednesday night didn’t deter the Thursday meeting.
Members of Perverted Justice acted as the 13-year-old girl during the course of the Internet conversations with Randall. Owens said the discussions took place in three different chat rooms. Authorities were contacted by Perverted Justice after the organization had conversations with Randall, Owens said.
Perverted Justice has helped nab numerous child predators by posing as underage children and teenagers in Internet chat rooms. The organization was paid to assist “Dateline” in its special on sexual predators.
“They go up on the chat rooms, say ‘hello’ and are almost immediately approached by all sorts of different people, including older men,” Campion said.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org
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