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Man Charged with Enticing a Minor Last Week Was Arrested through Undercover Sting

Joseph Stinnett, 24, of Niantic faces charges of criminal attempt at impairing the morals of a minor, criminal attempt at enticing a minor and obscenity.

A man who police said attempted to entice a minor through online chats was really speaking to an undercover police officer.

Joseph Stinnett, 24, of Niantic made references in the chats to meeting the so-called minor in Avon for sex, police said. He was arrested last week on charges of criminal attempt at impairing the morals of a minor, criminal attempt at enticing a minor and obscenity.

Stinnett told police in a written statement that he also engaged in many sexually explicit chats with others but that he believed the others were "adults of legal age."

An undercover officer was signed into a romantic chat on Yahoo Messenger on Dec. 4 for an Internet child exploitation investigation, according to the court affidavit. The officer took on a 15-year-old female persona and was contacted by Stinnett – who was under the alias "dieselpower1122" – in the chatroom, the affidavit stated.

The individual's supposed age was identified from the beginning, to which Stinnett wrote back "young lol," according to the affidavit. It wasn't long before Stinnett's messages became sexually explicit.

In a series of chats, texts and phone calls to a department-issued cell phone and web camera communications with the undercover officer over the course of a few days, Stinnett made many sexual comments and sent lewd photos of himself. He also made references to meeting the individual he thought was 15 for sex.

Police confirmed Stinnett's identity on Dec. 5 through Verizon Wireless phone records and Facebook. At the time, Stinnett lived with his mother in Niantic and was working as a chief estimator for TMP Construction in East Lyme, according to the court documents.

On Dec. 6, Stinnett referenced meeting with the 15-year-old persona on Saturday Dec. 8 in chats with the undercover officer, according to the affidavit. He contacted the individual again two days later to say that he planned on borrowing his mother's car to drive an hour from Niantic to Avon for the sexual liasion. He told the person he thought was 15 that he would go to jail if they got caught and that no one could find out, the affidavit states.

Police located Stinnett at work on Dec. 11 and he voluntarily went with police to the East Lyme Police Department for questioning, according to the affidavit. At first Stinnett told police the girl he was chatting with was 18 but later he admitted that the individual was actually 15.

In a written statement Stinnett said that while he did make plans to meet the individual in Avon on Dec. 8, he didn't go because "I didn't know anything about this girl and I thought it would be weird." He wrote in his statement that he "knew it was wrong" to meet a 15-year-old for sexual purposes and that he enjoyed "the fantasy more than actually acting on the situations."

Stinnett denied having any child porn in his possession and told police that he never met up with anyone he conversed with in chats. He told police that he began using the chats after he and his most recent girlfriend broke up.

His next scheduled court appearance is Jan. 24.

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