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Stalking stalkers

click to enlarge MATT STEVENS
  • Matt Stevens

Even if Colorado Springs Police Detective Richard Hunt consented to a full frontal photo, you'd never know what a talented young girl this 43-year-old man actually is.

Huh?

Between 5 and 10 hours a week -- not as often as he'd like -- Hunt scours the Internet, posing as a young girl. His mission is to find sexual predators who are looking for sex with children.

And he finds them -- a lot.

Since the inception of the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force four years ago, Hunt has been responsible for 47 arrests, over half of the statewide total.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, he debriefed a group from the Colorado Parent Teachers Association on the places their children may or may not be visiting via their modems.

Even in decidedly non-pornographic chat rooms like those found on Yahoo and Google, Hunt displays the frequency with which a young girl might be solicited for sexual exchanges.

Posing under the handle "Susie13," Hunt's computer chimes away with instant messages from such charming suitors as: "pain4u," "wantsyounggirls" and "forceU2submit."

"Hey sexy, what color panties are you wearing?" asks one.

"Is 44 too old?" inquires another.

One offers Susie a photo, which once downloaded reveals a black-and-white of a middle-aged man -- naked.

Hunt is not surprised.

"Kids are clueless online," Hunt says. To illustrate his point, he recounts how he posed as a teen-age boy and arranged to meet a 17-year-old girl in the hot tub of a local health club.

Instead, he went straight to her principal who brought her in for some real world 101.

"These are fast, solid friendships in their minds," Hunt explains before showing a handful of frightened parents how quickly a predator can find their child's contact info from their online profile.

More than once, Hunt asks the thoroughly spooked audience, "Would you let your kid go into a roomful of strangers with all of their identification?"

  • Stalking stalkers

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