A weekend sex sting landed a Rathdrum sex offender and four other men in jail to face charges of enticing children, which can carry a maximum 15 years in prison.
Richard Peterson, 24, of Rathdrum, a registered sex offender, was arrested Saturday, along with Thomas R. Cartwright, 54, of Post Falls, who was arrested a day earlier, and three Spokane men who braved the winter weather to drive to Idaho to have sex with a 14-year-old girl who turned out to be a police officer.
At the request of prosecutors, Peterson’s bond was set Monday at $500,000. Bonds were set at $250,000 for Cartwright, a Post Falls Virtual Financial consultant, Kilian J. Hoyne, 20, of Spokane Valley, Carl E. Ness, 54, of Spokane and electrician Tyrel M. Clark, 37, of Spokane.
Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Perez said Peterson is “truly a sexual predator,” when she asked Coeur d’Alene First District Magistrate James D. Stow to set bond at a half million dollars. Peterson, who spent a year in prison on a conviction for lewd conduct with a minor, was on probation when he showed up to meet Saturday with a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl.
Cartwright walked a mile through last weekend’s winter weather to the 7-Eleven convenience store in Post Falls carrying condoms and a hot chocolate to meet the teenager for sex, Perez said.
“It was extremely snowy, windy and cold,” Perez said.
The police operation, run jointly through the Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General’s International Crimes Against Children task force and Post Falls police, tapped into internet platforms often used by sex offenders to troll for underage teens.
Called Operation Lonely Heart, the sting started Thursday, employed 60 officers and was conducted from the Post Falls Police Department conference room. Although five suspects were arrested, police were in contact with many more in Spokane and North Idaho via cellphone, on chat room platforms or through text messaging. Many were impeded by the winter weather, police said.
All of the suspects were assigned public defenders. They will have a preliminary hearing within 14 days if they remain in jail, or within 21 days if they post bail.