A Fremont man was arrested for soliciting sex with an underage girl after answering an advertisement posted to Craig’s List by an undercover Beatrice Police officer.
Mark Avis, 42, faces several felony charges in Gage County Court, including solicitation of prostitution, pandering, and child enticement through an electronic device.
Sgt. Jay Murphy said the ad he posted was online for no more than 10 minutes before several interested people began emailing him, asking what the poster had to offer.
Over the next half hour, he received as many as 150 emails. The posting was flagged by someone in the Craig’s List community and taken down an hour after it was originally posted.
As he started getting emails, Murphy said he always provides “an out.”
“I give them an out and say ‘this is probably illegal, you don’t want to do it,’” Murphy explained.
When the Craig’s List posters do not heed the warning, Murphy said he was a mother "trying to pimp out my 15-year-old daughter because she wants to make a little money."
Avis responded and allegedly began an email and text conversation with Murphy posting as the 15-year-old’s mother.
The conversation turned sexual and eventually Avis allegedly agreed to meet the mother and daughter for sex in exchange for money.
Murphy said Beatrice Police used a vacant home as a meeting place and that they never use the same place twice.
Before Avis agreed to meet, however, he wanted a picture of the mother, Murphy said. Police sent him a picture of a female officer.
“When he did go to the house, she could meet him outside, so that’s what happened,” Murphy explained.
Avis was arrested pandering, a class IV felony, child abuse and attempted first degree sexual assault, both class IIIA felonies, electronic child enticement, a class IV felony and debauching minor, solicitation of prostitution, contributing to the delinquency of a minor – all class I misdemeanors.
On Thursday, Avis’ bond was set at $10,000 in Gage County Court. He paid ten percent of the bond later Thursday and was released.
Avis is scheduled to appear in court on March 12.
Murphy said Beatrice Police conduct stings for child enticement 2-3 times a year as staffing allows and the increase in numbers of people seeking illegal sexual conduct through the internet is growing. The department is a member of the Nebraska Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
“There’s a big issue, obviously, if I have an ad on there for 10 minutes and I have all those emails,” Murphy said. “If I had the time to do this full time, I’m sure arrests would be five or 10 fold.”
“It’s pretty wicked.”