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Fortuna police set trap to catch alleged online predator

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FORTUNA, Calif. - A Fortuna man has been arrested after police discovered he had been sending explicit text messages to a minor.

On Dec. 21, the Fortuna Police Department (FPD) reported receiving a report that an adult male was communicating with a 14-year-old girl via social media and text messaging. The man, later identified as 29-year-old Richard Leon Nelson of Fortuna, was trying to arrange a meeting with the girl for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, according to the FPD. 

Officers said they began monitoring conversations between Nelson and the minor. During those conversations Nelson suggested that the girl meet him near the 2300 block of School Street in Fortuna.  A meeting was arranged and officers waited for the suspect to arrive.

The FPD said at around 11 p.m., Nelson arrived at the meeting location and was immediately stopped by officers. He was booked into the Humboldt County Jail on charges of sending sexually explicit matter to a minor, arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior, annoying or molesting any child under 18 years of age and violation of probation. Nelson’s bail was set at $60,000.

The FPD aid in a statement, " We encourage parents to monitor their children’s use of electronic devices and discuss the dangers related to electronic communications with strangers."

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