ST. GEORGE — A Las Vegas man is in jail in Washington County after task force agents caught him allegedly trying to lure a young girl to a prearranged meeting under the premise of performing a sexual act.
On Friday, a 45-year-old Nevada man, Wayne Clarence Morris Jr., was arrested in Washington County during an active operation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The arrest stems from an investigation that was set in motion when the suspect allegedly went online and began communicating with what he believed was a 13-year-old girl that was actually an undercover agent posing as a teen.
From there, charging documents indicate, Morris continued communicating with the decoy through text message, asking the girl to send him nude photos of herself and then arranging to meet the teen at a specific location in Washington County.
The documents also state that the suspect detailed the sexual act that would be performed when the meeting took place.
Through the course of the investigation, agents learned that Morris works as a repair technician for a company in Las Vegas and travels as part of his job. They also stated that the suspect had arranged the meeting so it coincided with a return trip from a repair appointment.
When Morris showed up at the prearranged location, instead of meeting a 13-year-old he was met by police and arrested.
The suspect was then transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing one count each of second-degree felony enticing a minor by internet or text as well as third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
The St. George Police Detective who serves on the task force requested that Morris be held without bail, citing that the suspect lives in Las Vegas and has no ties to the area.
This is the second arrest by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force over the last week, the first of which involved the arrest of 27-year-old Matthew Ryan Settje, a Virginia man who was living in Ivins at the time of the arrest.
Following Friday’s arrest, Morris remains in custody without bail.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders 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.
The formation of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
The internet can provide incredible educational and recreational opportunities for children and teens, but there is also a darker side where criminal activity flourishes and electronic actions can result in physical repercussions. There are criminals in cyberspace that troll the internet seeking children for sex and who lure a child from their home for sexual purposes – actions that can have catastrophic consequences.
The proliferation of child pornography and the rise in the number of predators out there who search the internet for unsupervised contact with children presented a “formidable challenge” for law enforcement, making it necessary to create a task force that could address the various aspects inherent in cyber crimes that target children.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was launched in 2000. It operates under the Utah Attorney General’s Office and is one of 61 ICAC task forces in the country designed to protect children in cyberspace, as studies show the younger sector of society represents one of the fastest growing internet populations.
The task force is made up of hundreds of officers, detectives, deputies and agents from nearly 40 local, state and federal agencies across Utah, including officers from Iron and Washington counties.
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