TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Middlesex County man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to lure a 14-year-old boy he met through social media to a park for a sexual encounter. The “boy” in reality was an undercover detective of the New Jersey State Police.
Harold Gordner, 40, of Highland Park, N.J., was arrested Friday, May 18, in Sayreville, N.J., by members of the New Jersey State Police on charges of second-degree attempted luring of a child and third-degree providing obscene materials/films to a minor. Gordner is being held in the Middlesex County Jail pending a detention hearing. His detention hearing is scheduled for this Friday, May 25, before Superior Court Judge Alberto Rivas.
About one month ago, an undercover detective from the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) encountered Gordner on social media. It is alleged that Gordner, who believed the undercover detective was a 14-year-old boy, engaged in sexually explicit chats with the “boy” and sent the “boy” photos of himself masturbating, as well as links to pornographic videos from a pornography website. Gordner allegedly asked several times whether he could send a car service to pick up the “boy” and bring him to Gordner’s residence to engage in sexual activity. Ultimately Gordner allegedly arranged to meet the “boy” at John F. Kennedy Park in Sayreville on the afternoon of May 18 for a sexual encounter. Gordner was arrested by members of the State Police DTIU when he arrived at the park.
“The allegations in this case highlight the need for constant vigilance on the part of law enforcement and parents to guard children on social media, because the child predators who used to lurk around playgrounds, schoolyards and shopping malls are now also lurking on the internet,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice, and our partners on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force are working tirelessly to protect children through these proactive investigations.”
“Gordner allegedly displayed a typical pattern of conduct for an online predator: identifying a child on social media, grooming the child with explicit chats and pornographic materials, and then trying to meet the child for sexual activity,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Thankfully, the State Police detected his alleged predatory conduct and arrested him before any children were harmed.”
“Gordner attempted to use social media to satisfy his perverse desires. This arrest will serve as a reminder to any predators looking to prey upon innocent children that our detectives may be on the receiving end of their solicitations,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend the outstanding investigative work of the State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and our partners in the Division of Criminal Justice which led to the quick arrest of this predator."
Deputy Attorney General Layli Khelafa is assigned to prosecute the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Julia Glass.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The complaint filed against Gordner is merely an accusation and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment.
In addition to investigating cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit, the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, and the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force routinely conduct undercover chat investigations on social media platforms leading to arrests of hands-on offenders and defendants attempting to lure children. They also conduct proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child pornography.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Assistant Deputy Public Defender Jacqueline Boulos, Middlesex County.
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