Mesquite detective accused of sexually exploiting St. George teen charged in federal court

Composite image | Background photo by Peter Csaza/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Nevada police detective accused of sexually exploiting a Utah teen was indicted in federal court last week.

Mesquite Police Detective Gary Erickson, 50, of Bunkerville, Nevada, has been federally indicted on one felony count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

The defendant appeared with his attorney, Ryan Stout, for an arraignment hearing May 13 before U.S. District Judge Paul D. Kohler where he entered a plea of “not guilty.”

Erickson is scheduled to appear in court for a change of plea hearing set for June 3 at 1 p.m. in District Court in St. George.

All state charges filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office in September 2018 have been dismissed, which include three second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, third-degree felony dealing in materials harmful to a minor and misdemeanor sexual abuse of a minor.

While sex offenses are typically state crimes, federal law outlaws sex offenses that involve interstate or foreign travel, or when they involve child pornography whose production or distribution is associated in some way with interstate commerce.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay T. Winward told St. George News on Wednesday the federal indictment was filed against Erickson based on the fact that he traveled from Nevada to Utah to commit the alleged offenses, which constitutes interstate travel.

When asked if any other factors played a role in the decision to indict Erickson, Winward said he could not comment any further on the case at this time but that more information will be released after the June 3 hearing.

In the 2018 case filed in Washington County, Erickson was accused of alleged sex offenses involving a 15-year-old male after 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 filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office Sept. 11, 2018, in support of the charges.

Read more: Mesquite police officer accused of sexually exploiting St. George boy

The report also said the teen participated in sexual acts with the adult male on more than one occasion, and only knew the man as “Eric Smith,” and provided police with a description of the suspect.

Erickson became a possible suspect as the investigation progressed and charges were filed after he was  positively identified in a photo lineup days later, which led to his arrest Sept. 12 and his termination from the Mesquite Police force.

The defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing in lieu of a resolution hearing while Washington County prosecutors waited on a possible federal indictment being sought in the case.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

St. George News reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.




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