ST. GEORGE — A Heber City man was met by several St. George Police detectives and placed under arrest Sunday morning after he arrived at a prearranged location to allegedly have sex with a child.
On Saturday, the St. George Police Department was conducting an undercover operation when a suspect, later identified as 30-year-old Arjun Shibonis, made contact with what he reportedly thought was “a female child” on a social media application.
Instead, the man was messaging a law enforcement decoy posing as a young girl, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest.
While messaging, the suspect asked the child to meet with him to “participate in sexual intercourse,” the report states, and then he continued to write explicit sexual statements in the message thread.
Authorities say that on the way to meet up with the child, the suspect stopped at a local grocery store where he purchased a pack of condoms. Once he arrived at the prearranged destination “for the purpose of having sex with the female child,” the officer wrote. The suspect was instead met by several detectives and placed under arrest.
During an interview, the suspect admitted to meeting the child online and said he discussed having sexual intercourse with the young girl in the message thread. He also admitted to purchasing the condoms at the store on the way to the meeting, the detective noted in the report.
Shibonis was then transported and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility facing two second-degree felonies – including rape of a child under 14 and enticing a minor. He remains in jail without bail.
The rise of online predators
The sheer number of online predators is drastically increasing with the ever-expanding availability of technology, the internet and social media and messaging apps. In fact, the FBI reports an estimated 2000% increase in the number of child pornography images available on the internet since 1996, and there are roughly 116 requests for sexually explicit images and videos of children made over the internet on any given day.
Federal investigators say they also suspect there are more than 500,000 online predators active each day who disguise themselves using multiple online profiles.
According to a study by GuardChild, more than 725,000 children across the United States have received aggressive sexual messages – defined as a request to meet in person for sex.
Moreover, more than 20,000 new images of sexual abuse involving children are posted daily.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, 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.
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