Two Brainerd men and one Ironton man, allegedly believing they were messaging a 14-year-old girl through an internet application, instead face criminal charges of child solicitation with the intention of engaging in sexual conduct.
The three men, in Crow Wing County Jail-issued jumpsuits, made their first appearance Thursday, Aug. 15, in front of Judge Patricia A. Aanes in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd. The men were charged with three felonies -- soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct- a prohibited act; soliciting a child or believing to be a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct; and engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child. Each count has a maximum sentence of three years and a $5,000 fine.
Charged were: William Anthony Desrocher, 23, Brainerd; Mark Joshua Allan Ridlon, 34, Ironton; and Danny Lee Schroeder, 33, Brainerd.
Ridlon also was charged with felony distributing via electronic communication materials-relating to sexual conduct to a child.
All three men were arrested Tuesday, Aug. 13, in Brainerd, in separate incidents as a result of a law enforcement undercover chat sting operation. In all three cases, law enforcement posed as a 14-year-old persona and communicated with the three defendants.
According to the criminal complaint, in messaging between the persona and Desrocher, he almost immediatly asked her if she wanted to have sex. The persona stated she was 14 and the defendant stated he would get in so much trouble if people knew and asked if she was a cop. After she denied being a cop, he proceeded to ask where she was staying and made arrangements to meet her in Brainerd. Desrocher arrived to the designated location and was arrested. Desrocher admitted to police he arrived with the intention of having sex with a 14-year-old girl, the complaint stated.
In the other two cases, according to the criminal complaints, the persona stated she would be turning 15 after Christmas. Ridlon stated they could still hang out but he wouldn’t “try anything,” but then he immediately asked for a photo of the persona’s body. Conversations continued about what activities they could do when Ridlon volunteered he would be staring at the persona the whole time with a “dirty mind.” Ridlon asked the persona if she likes guys looking at her and that he would probably say “something stupid,” which led to a sexual comment.
Conversations of a sexual nature continued and Ridlon asked if she ever hung out with guys she met online and how old they were. He asked if she “did stuff” followed by emojis of a sexual nature. He also sent two photographs of his privates.
Ridlon made arrangements to meet the persona in Brainerd location and was arrested when he arrived.
When the persona messaged Schroeder about turning 15 after Christmas, he asked her if she likes older men and he wanted to play with her, the complaint stated. Schroeder asked the persona if he could steal her away and asked her where she lives. He also asked when her mother would be home and for a photograph.
The conversations continued and Schroeder made more statements about sexual acts and asked for more photos, then stated he wanted more than just pictures, once she would give him her address. When the conversations resumed about meeting, he said: “I hope this is not a set up. I need this makes me feel good princess pretty please.”
Schroeder arrived to the designated meeting location in Brainerd and was arrested.
Judge Aanes set $20,000 unconditional bail for all three men or they were allowed to be released from custody with conditions to include no contact with minors age 18 and younger, they cannot use the internet or go on any chat sites, cannot leave the state, must remain law abiding, make and maintain all future court appearances, may not possess any firearms or dangerous weapons and maintain contact with their attorneys.
During the court arraignments, Ridlon appeared first and Brainerd public defender Roger Bechtel spoke on his behalf. During the discussion on conditions of release, Bechtel said Ridlon has three children and asked that he still be able to have contact with them. The judge agreed he could have contact with his own children, but not with any other minors.
A Rule 8 hearing was set for Ridlon at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 28. A Rule 8 hearing is a second court appearance, where the defendant is again advised of their rights and allowed to plead guilty or not guilty.
Desrocher appeared second and Brainerd attorney Ashley Jones spoke on his behalf regarding the conditions of his release. Jones said the defendant works at a construction company and would be working on a project at a school. She said he would be supervised.
Assistant Crow Wing County Attorney Janine Lepage said she has no objection to this condition.
The judge scheduled his Rule 8 court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 14.
Schroeder qualified for a public defender and Bechtel spoke on his behalf. Bechtel said Schroeder would like to have contact with his niece and would like to continue to work at a fast-food restaurant. Lepage said she has concerns with him working at the restaurant because he would have contact with minors. Betchel said the defendant would be happy to talk to his employer about the conditions of his release.
The judge ordered the same conditions of release and said Schroeder is to not be alone with any minor child without being supervised.
The next court hearing for the Schroeder is 1:30 p.m. Oct. 14.