An Orange man is facing criminal charges after police said he tried to arrange a face-to-face sexual encounter with a supposed 14-year-old girl over the Internet.
But that encounter never actually happened, because the alleged girl that 39-year-old Christopher Driscoll met in a chat room online was no teen at all, police said. Rather it was Det. Ronald Blanchard.
Blanchard is a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, collaborated program between state and local law enforcement that seeks to investigate offenders who use the internet or the computer to sexually exploit children, said Lt. Robert Harrison, Naugatuck police spokesman.
“We don’t find them, they find us,” Harrison said. “Our detective does nothing more than enter a chat room with a profile made up that depicts him as a 14-year-old female, with a photo, hobbies, interest, etc.”
In this case, like other computer crimes case, police said Driscoll made contact with Blanchard — as he assumed the profile of the 14-year-old — on six separate occassions between Jan. 17 and Feb. 9. The suspect initiated sexual conversation during the interactions, police said.
After enough chats, Driscoll asked the detective to meet up, and police set the location as Mounview Plaza in Naugatuck, Harrison said. From there, police said Driscoll sought to engage in sexual activity.
Driscoll gave the alleged 14-year-old a description of his car so when he arrived at the Rubber Avenue plaza they could find each other, police said.
But when Driscoll got there on Feb. 9 Naugatuck police investigators located him and took him into custody on charges of second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and use of a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. The suspect was held in lockup on a $25,000 bond and was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Waterbury Superior Court.
Blanchard has conducted roughly 50 arrest of this type in the past, Harrison said. But, when it comes to encountering alleged sexual predators over the internet, Harrison made it clear, “we don’t target anyone.”
“We wait for them to make the first communication,” he said.
Many times, as he poses as a 14-year-old girl, Blanchard will engage in internet chats that never turn sexual. Other times, there are sexual conversations that take place, but never to the point where the person on the other side agrees to make a rendezvous, Harrison said.
“It can rise to the level of criminal investigation based on conversation,” the spokesman said.
Driscoll has no prior criminal record.
New Milford police assisted in the investigation.