Attorney General Announces First Arrest Under New Internet Safety Law, Commends Work Of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today the first arrest under House Bill 06-1011 for “Internet Luring of a Child.”

Richard Hobart (age 32) of Jefferson County, was arrested by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on July 5, 2006, four days after the new law became effective.  He is charged with engaging a law enforcement officer he believed to be a 12 year-old girl in a sexually explicit conversation over the internet and attempting to meet her for sexual purposes.  He was subsequently charged with two counts of Internet Luring of a Child, a class four felony.

“This arrest is the first using this powerful new tool in the fight against sexual predators of children,” said Suthers.  “Predators around the world now know that if you engage a Colorado child in a sexually explicit conversation online and then ask them to meet, expect a knock on your door from law enforcement.” 

According to the arrest warrant, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office received a request from a woman claiming that Hobart, her ex-boyfriend, allegedly stole her laptop computer.  The woman suspected Hobart of cheating during their relationship, so the woman logged onto the computer using Hobart's user profile.  The woman located saved chats between Hobart and other persons. One of the saved chats was allegedly with a 14 year old female.  The chat indicated that Hobart may have had sexual contact with the girl when she was 12 years old.  Hobart's ex-girlfriend also located images of possible child pornography on the computer.

A Douglas County investigator subsequently contacted Hobart using an undercover profile of a 12-year-old girl.  During their first conversation, Hobart talked about meeting. On July 1, Hobart asked the "12 year old girl" to meet him on July 3 in front of a Douglas County store. The girl was told to wear a skirt and no underwear. Hobart allegedly made a plan to take the girl to a movie theater, where Hobart and the girl would engage in sexual acts.  Hobart did not show up for that meeting, later telling investigators that he did not think the girl would show up.  Hobart subsequently contacted the “girl” and arranged another meeting later that day, but again failed to show up.   He was subsequently arrested at his place of work on July 5.  Hobart works as an accountant in Jefferson County.

“I want to commend the outstanding work of Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver, his undercover investigator and their staff,” said Suthers.  “Our children are safer today because of their hard work.” 

House Bill 1011 was the cornerstone of the Attorney General’s Safe Surfing Initiative launched in 2005.   It was carried in the legislature by Representative Bob McCluskey (R- Ft. Collins) and Senator Paula Sandoval (D-Denver).  Under the new law, it is a class 5 felony to engage a person under age 15 in a sexually explicit conversation online and then attempt to meet them for any purpose.  If the stated purpose of the meeting is sexual in nature, the felony rises to a class 4.

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