PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Detectives arrested a Minford resident on behalf of Bethesda Ohio Police Friday, after he allegedly participated in a sexually explicit online conversation with what he believed was an underage girl.
According to Bethesda Police Chief Tim Zdanski, 25-year-old Brett Rinehart, of Minford, was arrested Friday at his place of employment in Franklin Furnace.
“We have a task force called S.P.I.I. — sexual predator Internet initiative — and basically (Rinehart) was communicating with what he believed was a 15-year old girl, but actually was our police decoy,” Zdanski said. “The conversations were sexually explicit, and then he sent her sexually explicit photos of himself accompanied by videos.”
The S.P.I.I. patrols the Internet, using sites like MySpace and chat rooms, to pose as a child and then simply waits for predators to approach them.
“We’re not doing anything special. We’re just sitting there like any kid would on the Internet. We don’t entice and we don’t encourage,” Zdanski said. “Past Attorney General Betty Montgomery I heard at a dinner one day make a comment ... ‘It’s like turning on the porch light on a hot summer night, and the bugs just start collecting.’ It’s absolutely true.”
He said Rinehart engaged in the conversation several times late last summer from his home using instant messaging and chat rooms. It’s taken police that long to identify and locate Rinehart.
“We run several of these at a time and it takes a long period of time sometimes to track down and identify who the actual individual is. We have to track down the I.P. address and track down the Internet provider, and so on so forth, and you have to do all this by subpoena,” Zdanski said.
Rinehart was arrested by Scioto County Deputies on behalf of Bethesda Police.
Officers also seized computers and digital evidence from Rinehart’s home in Minford, and Zdanski said it will all be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Identification (BCII) for inspection.
“Scioto County was very accommodating. A great department,” he said.
Rinehart was charged with disseminating matters harmful to a juvenile and was taken to the Belmont County (Ohio) Jail, and will be arraigned May 14.
Bethesda, Ohio, is about 20 miles from Wheeling, W.Va.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org