Detectives arrest St. George man on charges of child sex abuse and exploitation

Stock image | Photo by Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man who was arrested by St. George Police detectives last week faces multiple felony charges after being accused of sexually abusing two girls.

Kaden Luwayne Barber, 19, of St. George, was arrested Aug. 10 and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility after allegedly admitting to sexual activity with two 13-year-old girls.

On Monday, the Washington County Attorney’s Office filed 12 charges against Barber, including first-degree felony charges of rape of a child under the age of 14 and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. He is also facing three counts of second-degree felony sex abuse of a child, two counts of second-degree felony exploitation of a minor and two third-degree felony counts of dealing in harmful material to a minor.

Bookings photo of Kaden Luwayne Barber, 19, of St. George, posted Aug. 10, 2018 | Washington County, Utah | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Barber was also charged with three class B misdemeanors, including one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The charges stem from an investigation into allegations that a 13-year-old girl was in a relationship with a 19-year-old man.

Police investigating the report conducted interviews, forensic cell phone examinations and collected evidence that revealed that inappropriate photos were exchanged electronically, including evidence allegedly showing Barber with the girl on multiple occasions.

During questioning, police say Barber admitted to having sex with the adolescent and to sending/requesting inappropriate photos, as well as providing alcohol, marijuana and vapes to the girl. He allegedly told officers that he was aware of her age at the time of the offense.

“He said he was told she was 13 or 14 years old, but couldn’t remember exactly if she ever said she was 13,” police wrote in a probable cause statement written in support of Barber’s arrest.

During the investigation, detectives also learned of a second alleged victim. According to the police statement, a separate 13-year-old girl was allegedly touched inappropriately after being invited to Barber’s house to watch a movie.

According to police, Barber admitted to abusing the girl, knowing she was 13-years-old at the time of the incident.

Barber made an initial appearance in Fifth District Court Aug. 13, and his next scheduled appearance is Monday at 2:30 p.m.

Social media and online predators

According to court records, the possible charges Barber faced included one count of enticing a minor – electronic crime, which in Utah typically includes the use of electronic communication, usually via texting or internet chat.

The charge of enticing a minor is often combined with other charges based on what exactly the minor was being enticed to do and covers more than just trying to get a minor to perform sexual acts with the accused. That particular charge was changed by the county attorney, and instead Barber was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and dealing in harmful materials to a minor.

In many similar cases, online communication and social media has been used as a means to lure children, providing direct access to unsuspecting adolescents through instant messaging and social networking platforms. Often the aim is to seduce a minor into performing a sexual act or to build a relationship with the goal of luring a minor into inappropriate behavior.

While social media allows kids to communicate with one another, the networking power can also connect them to people they have never met in person, creating situations that scare many parents, and rightly so.

One in five U.S. teenagers who regularly go online say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the web, but only 25 percent report telling their parents, according to Safe Search Kids. A recent study by Kids Live Safe shows that 82 percent of online sex crimes originate from social networking sites that predators use to gain insight into their potential victim’s habits and likes.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, there were nearly 800,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. in 2015, with more than 7,000 in Utah.

Today, the internet and social media have evolved into one of the main social gathering spots for teens, and for many young people, information-sharing on Facebook is grounded in their “real world” relationships, peer groups and school life and rarely has anything to do with strangers. While there can be benefits for kids using sites like Facebook, there can be serious downsides, as well.

Staying informed of a child’s activity on social media can reduce the risk of them engaging in dangerous online activity.

Read more: 9 dangerous apps for teens: Do you know what’s on your child’s phone?

This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.


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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • NickDanger August 19, 2018 at 5:43 am

    There’s a gray area in these kinds of cases. Not saying this case falls into it, but what if he was 18 and she was 14? Would it still be a 1st-degree felony? Maybe so since this guy looks a bit too jihad-y for southern Utah. But from what I’m reading here, 14 represents some kind of line in the sand regarding the age of the victim, so I guess this case crosses that line.

    Also, I’d like to point out that I didn’t detect much of a segue between the hard news story at the beginning of this piece, which is what I was here for, and the editorial infomercial about social media problems at the end. Perhaps two articles next time.

    • comments August 19, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      My guess is it would be a lesser degree of severity. Possibly still a felony, but maybe not a 1st degree felony. I was looking into this just out of curiosity. Apparently UT doesn’t have a separate category for statutory charges. More that likely they had a consensual thing going, but he’ll be charged with ‘rape of a child under 14’ because there are no separate type of charges for statutory in UT. So regardless of whether it was “actual rape” he’ll likely be convicted for child rape, which carries a possible life sentence. Seems quite severe for consensual relations, if that is the case. I don’t care whether a creepy looking bearded clown like this goes down, but it is interesting to think about. If the girl would’ve been 16 he likely wouldn’t have even be charged. Who knows whether or not it was consensual, but even back in my day kids were having sex at 13. What is that 8th or 9th grade?

      I still wonder why the state of UT never held The Holy Prophet Warran Jeffs accountable for raping all those little girls just a few miles up the road. I suppose their is a separate standard of justice for “prophets of the LORD”. Insanity.

      • comments August 19, 2018 at 5:01 pm

        But, considering the severity of the charges, LE must’ve thought this was clearly a predatory situation. And this clown is probably looking at quite a few years in state prison. He is a rather ghoulish looking type of creature. Maybe he’s got a phobia of scissors and razors. Or maybe just going for the dirty hippy look. lol

  • Kilroywashere August 19, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    If he is convicted as a child molester, which appears likely, he will be entering hell, as he will be targeted in prison his entire time behind bars. Some mistakes are critical and life changing. He screwed up. I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for the victims and their families as well. But the moral of the story is you have to respect the law. Everybody loses in this case including society at large as well.

  • mesaman August 19, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I suppose the ACLU would object to castration.

  • stevenxfiles August 19, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Lets not ignore the elephant in the room. If this guy cleaned himself up and got a haircut he could call himself an FLDS prophet and he’d fit right in.

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