MEDFORD, Ore. – Two Medford transients are in custody after reportedly trying to lure a minor into having sex. Police say that 16-year old victim responded to a casual encounter posting on Craiglist, but ran away when he saw the van where they were supposed to meet.
“It was for the purpose of exploring possible sex, and then the child ended up getting kind of weirded out over the whole thing and left,” said Medford Police Detective Jim Williams.
Police say 41-year old Mark Doty and 19-year old Cameron Lauckner were inside the van and had posted the original ad. Apparently the two deleted the ad, but police say they suspect it was little more than an invitation and a phone number – a commonly used tactic to mislead minors into sexual situations.
“You can be anything you want to be on the internet,” said Brandon Bloomfield, a Detective and Forensic Examiner with the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force. “They’re not portraying themselves as who they actually are.”
According to the Child Victim Identification Program, complaints of online enticement rose 230% nationwide from 2004 to 2008.
Local digital forensics experts say the rise is mostly fueled by the availability of mobile devices.
“More and more folks are getting used to using these,” said Bloomfield. “You put them on mobile devices and you have it readily at your hand, and so it’s immediate.”
But while the situations are easy to get into, they’re also easily avoided. Police say the best bet is to simply not make yourself available online.
But barring that, they say parents need to pay attention.
They also caution that most situations of enticing a minor don’t end up with a safe victim and a couple of arrests.
“The realistic side is that there’s a lot more of this risky behavior that’s going on that we don’t see,” said Williams. “I think it’s way under-reported versus over-reported.”
In this case, Doty and Lauckner are charged with luring a minor and online sexual corruption of a child. Bail is set at $95,000.
Police say Doty is also a registered sex offender with prior incidents on his record, meaning there’s a good possibility of additional charges and longer jail time.