An East Carondelet man who is a registered sex offender was charged after allegedly soliciting young girls for sex via social media last week.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department said that on July 26, it received a report from two juvenile females, ages 15 and 16, that they had been approached through their social media accounts by an unknown male asking to have sexual relations with him for money.
Police said that based on information and pictures provided by the person contacting them, he appeared to be an adult male and he was offering money for them to perform sex acts with him.
After following up on the original messages and contacting social media application sites, police said a suspect was identified.
During the investigation, it was found that the suspect is also a current registered sex offender with the sheriff’s department and was using an alias while communicating with the juvenile females, police said. The suspect was last registered on July 7.
On Thursday, the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office charged Benjamin R. Ingram, 32, of East Carondelet, with violation of the sex offender registration act, two counts of indecent solicitation of a child, two counts of solicitation of a sex act from a person under 18, and two counts of grooming (gaining trust and influence of a minor for sex acts).
Bond was set at $200,000 for Ingram, who was taken into custody without incident and remains in the St. Clair County Jail.
No other reports have been taken regarding other victims of solicitation, and the victims never had contact with the suspect, police stressed.
“In this case the girls did the right thing after having been contacted by the suspect. They immediately told their mother of the contact, who called the police,” St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said. “These cases can be difficult to investigate with all the technology available to people, and communications can literally from around the world. I am glad we were able to identify this person, who is already a sex offender, and keep him from contacting anyone else. The message to parents does not change: please speak to your kids and teens about the dangers of talking to strangers on the web, and do not speak with or ever meet with someone you do not know.”