Federal program targets online child predators
A Pasco man nabbed in the 2017 Net Nanny sex sting questioned if the person he was chatting with online was really an undercover officer or a 13-year-old girl.
But, despite his concerns, Stephen C. Perez went ahead with the meetup after having explicit conversations about sex and discussing how much money he needed to pay.
On Friday, the 47-year-old was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison and a maximum of life.
His release will be up to a state board, which will review his behavior and sex offender treatment while behind bars.
Perez said nothing when sentenced by Judge Sam Swanberg.
He told a Benton County jury in April that even though he offered $50 in exchange for sex, he never intended to go through with it.
He claimed that he always kept condoms stocked in his cars for use with his then-wife.
Jurors took less than three hours to return guilty verdicts for attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Both are felonies.
Net Nanny sex sting
Perez was one of 26 men arrested in an online child sex sting known as the Tri-Cities Net Nanny operation.
He answered a Craigslist ad on July 2017 that claimed to be a young woman looking for an “older daddy.”
The girl, who actually was an undercover officer, made it clear from the beginning that Perez was talking with a 13-year-old, especially after he identified himself as 45, according to court documents.
Perez asked for a picture, and received one of a Washington State Patrol trooper posing as a teen.
He asked the girl what she wanted to do and when they could meet, and sent two pictures of himself.
While Perez claimed at trial that it was the officer who kept bringing up the sexual acts, prosecutors pointed out that text messages show he initiated the sex talk.
He went to the designated Richland apartment complex to see the girl, but instead was met by police officers. They found condoms in the center console of Perez’s car.
Perez had no criminal convictions before this case.
At the time, he worked with computers in his job with a Department of Energy contractor. He since was fired.
He then got work restoring vehicles until he was taken into custody in April following the jury verdicts.