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Oak Harbor man arrested in child sex sting operation
An Oak Harbor man who volunteers at an elementary school was arrested last week after he went to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex, only to find the planned rendezvous was an undercover sting, according to the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.
Chief Criminal Deputy Tom Molitor with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office said detectives recently started an investigation in the style of the TV show “To Catch a Predator.” They went undercover online, posing as underage girls to see if any men would solicit them for sex.
“We were just testing the waters, but it took off a little faster than we thought it would,” Molitor said. “We were shocked at the amount of interest we found in underage females. We didn’t think it was so pervasive.”
Molitor said the investigation is still in progress, but the detectives decided to move ahead with arresting two of the suspects because the men have connections with schools.
Last Thursday, Jonathen Kruse, a 64-year-old Oak Harbor resident, traveled to Skagit County to meet with a 13-year-old girl he met over the internet to have sex for money — he thought — but instead was arrested by detectives, according to Molitor.
On the same day, detectives also arrested Daniel Williams, a 56-year-old resident of Concrete, after he also arrived at the location to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex, Molitor said.
Molitor said the detectives worked with the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office in an attempt to avoid allegations of entrapment.
Prosecutors charged Kruse Monday in Skagit County Superior Court with commercial sexual abuse of a minor, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted rape of a child in the second degree.
Kruse posted $50,000 bail.
Kruse volunteered in a classroom at Hillcrest Elementary School, according to Joe Hunt, communication director with the Oak Harbor School District.
As soon as school district officials found out about the arrest, they revoked Kruse’s volunteer badge and sent him a letter banning him from school district property. Hunt said the officials also did an assessment of Kruse’s activity at the school.
“At no time that we know of did he have any opportunity to be alone with kids,” Hunt said, adding that Kruse volunteered only about 20 hours a year.
According to Molitor, Kruse didn’t have a criminal history.
Kruse could not be reached for comment.