Colorado

Feb 6, 2014 11:59 PM by Tony Spehar

Colorado Springs man charged with soliciting sex from underage girls online

Steven Leeper, 18, was arrested by Colorado Springs Police on Wednesday and faces multiple felony charges related to soliciting sexually explicit pictures and sex from underage girls over social media.

Investigators said they were first alerted to Leeper's alleged activities in December. A father concerned about his daughter's Facebook page brought her in to speak to officers.

"When he confronted her on it she admitted that Mr. Leeper was trying to get her to send photographs of herself to him," described Lt. Mark Comte.

Leeper is accused of using social media sites, including Facebook and MeetMe, to befriend girls online and then ask them to send sexual photographs. According to police Leeper allegedly would offer to pay the girls or threaten to post their pictures online if they didn't send more. Investigators said he may have attempted to get pictures and videos from as many as 200 girls.

"He even convinced some of the girls to meet him in person for sexual purposes and he offered to pay for it," Lt. Comte explained. "Some of the girls he had contact with, physical contact, may have been at the age of 13."

Wilene Lampert of Safe Passage, a local group which helps abused children cope with their feelings and aid in investigations, said the case shows the potential hazards of the Internet.

"One of the real dangers is about 20-percent of all children using the Internet are going to be solicited and that's scary," Lampert described.

Lampert and police agreed that the case is a good example of how alert parents can make a difference. She urged parents to speak to their kids about online safety and take steps like keeping computers in common areas where they can be monitored. She also said the father of the girl who first brought the situation to the attention of the police took all the right steps when he noticed something wrong.

"Take that evidence, don't fool around with it, but take it to law enforcement and let them start to investigate it," she advised. "Which also means at that point that now the parent has helped stop whatever has been going on."

Steven Leeper is facing charges of sexual exploitation of a child, solicitation for child prostitution, inducement of child prostitution, patronizing of a prostituted child, Internet luring of a child, contributing to the delinquency or a minor and criminal extortion.

Police believe there are potentially more victims involved in the case, anyone with information is asked to call investigators at (719)444-7508.

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