ST. GEORGE — A Nevada police detective is accused of sexually exploiting a Utah teen over the course of several months.
Mesquite Police Detective Gary Erickson, 50, of Bunkerville, Nevada, was served an arrest warrant Sept. 12 issued by the St. George Police Department. He faces multiple felony counts related to the sexual exploitation of a minor and dealing in harmful materials to a minor, as well as a misdemeanor charge for sexual abuse of a minor.
The Mesquite Police Department announced Wednesday afternoon that it terminated Erickson’s employment following the results of an internal investigation. He was originally placed on administrative leave following his arrest in Las Vegas.
According to an affidavit supporting the arrest warrant, Erickson is accused of alleged sex offenses involving a 15-year-old male.
In mid-August the teen’s parents contacted St. George Police claiming their son “had been sending and receiving nude photographs to (and) from an unknown adult male,” according to the affidavit.
The images had been sent over the Snapchat phone app, and the teen only knew the man on the other end by the name “Eric Smith.”
“The juvenile’s parents also reported their son telling them that he had met with ‘Eric’ at the Sand Hallow Aquatic Center, in St. George (in early August). The juvenile male disclosed participating in sexual acts with the adult male in the facility’s locker room,” the affidavit states.
The teen was later interviewed at the Children’s Justice Center, during which time he said he originally met “Eric” in March over “a ‘gay’ dating social media app called ‘Grindr.’”
According the affidavit, the teen said he originally listed his age as 18 on the Grindr app since that was the minimum age required to create an account.
“Around the time he and the suspect male exchanged Snapchat user information, (the teen) claims he told the adult male that he was only fifteen years old. The suspect male responded by saying, ‘That doesn’t bother me,’” the affidavit states.
Over the following months the teen and the suspect exchanged nude video and images of each other and eventually arranged to meet at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center where the suspect has a scuba class in the evening.
The teen provided police a text conversation between himself and the suspect detailing how they would meet up. Comments made by the suspect made during the exchange indicate he knew the teen was underage, the investigator wrote in the affidavit.
The teen and suspect ultimately met at the aquatic center and engaged in sexual acts while in a locker room.
The teen gave the police a description of “Eric,” and investigators soon identified Erickson as a possible suspect as the investigation progressed.
By Sept. 7, the teen was asked to point out the man he knew as “Eric Smith” in a photo lineup and positively identified a photo of Erickson, according to the affidavit.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Ed. note: This story has been updated with a photo of Erickson and the location of his arrest, as well as the Mesquite Police Department’s announcing Erickson’s employment termination.
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