The arrest of a St. Louis-area man charged with eight counts of sexual misconduct involving a child younger than 15 has its roots in Nova Scotia, where an undercover officer was performing a simple demonstration. The officer, who is a member of the provincial Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit, was giving a demonstration in May 2015 about the horrors of online sexual predators when she decided to log onto a children's chat site and pretend to be a 12-year-old girl, reports the CBC. Within an hour of posting the short message, "This site is weird, LOL. But I'm bored," she had more than 130 replies, and five of the first 10 she opened were explicit photos. The officer focused on one Missouri man who allegedly sent her "a bunch" of photos and videos.
"Because I felt he was so insistent, I engaged him," she says. KSDK reports that the man sent the messages between May and August 2015 using an app called Kik and that he told the person he thought was "Molly" that "I just like younger girls I guess Lol I can't explain it." He also allegedly sent the agent a photo of a 13-year-old girl he said he'd had sex with. The officer gathered what she could on him and sent it to the main ICE unit in Ottawa, which forwarded it on to the US Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this month officers arrested Robert Alfred Lall, 26, who has worked as a kids' camp counselor and lead gym attendant at a recreation complex, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Lall, whose bail was set at $50,000, admitted to sending nude photos of himself to girls. (A huge bust in California suggests the "dirty old man stereotype" is obsolete.)