Reno Man Convicted of Using Text Messaging to Entice Teenage Girls to Have Sex with Him
Las Vegas, Nev. –A Reno man has been convicted in federal court of sending text messages to two teenage girls in order to lure them into meeting him for sex, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Following a week-long trial before U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks, Terrance Hofus, 45, was convicted by a jury on Friday, September 26, 2008, of one count of Coercion and Enticement of a Minor.
"The prevalence of sexual victimization of children in the United States is overwhelming, and studies show that teenage girls are particularly at risk," said U.S. Attorney Brower. "The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue its work with the FBI and local police to ensure that individuals who prey on minors online and across state lines are vigorously prosecuted and punished."
According to the court records and evidence introduced at trial, in February 2008, two female eighth graders in Sparks, Nevada, sent text messages from their cell phones to a person they believed to be a 15-year-old male. The girls also sent nude photographs of themselves to this person from their cell phones. The next day, Hofus replied to the girls via text message indicating that he had received the nude photographs. Hofus and the girls exchanged sexually explicit text messages, and the girls initially thought they were communicating with the 15-year-old male. About two weeks later, the text messages from Hofus became threatening and harassing. Hofus told the juvenile victims that if they did not meet him for sexual activities, he would post the nude pictures of them on the Internet. One of the girls reported the threats to her middle school teacher, and they were later reported to the school police and the FBI. An FBI Agent assumed the identities of the juvenile victims and began communicating with Hofus with their cell phones. Hofus continued to send sexually explicit text messages to the undercover FBI Agent who was posing as the victims, and Hofus was advised several times that he was communicating with a juvenile. In March 2008, Hofus agreed to meet one of the teenage girls at a movie theater in Reno. Hofus advised the teenage girl that he wanted to engage in sexual activities with her. Hofus was also told during a telephone call on March 14, 2008, that she was a 14-year-old virgin. On March 16, 2008, Hofus was arrested by FBI Agents and Reno Police Department Officers across the street from the movie theater where he was observed using his cell phone to text the undercover agent. Hofus was indicted by the Federal Grand Jury on March 26, 2008, and charged with Coercion and Enticement of a Minor. .
Hofus faces 10 years to life in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hicks on December 29, 2008, at 9:00 a.m.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Washoe County School District Police Department, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald C. Rachow.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.