DOCUMENT: Internet, Crime

Facebook Sting Nets Illinois Perv On Federal Rap

Man targeted "boy" who "liked" Clay Aiken, rainbows

Clay Aiken

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Facebook Page Sting

FEBRUARY 5--In a bid to sting a suspected pedophile, an Illinois cybercrimes investigator last year opened a Facebook account in the name of a purported 13-year-old gay boy whose “favorites,” of course, included Clay Aiken, rainbows, and Justin Bieber.

The undercover probe was launched after the Rock Island Police Department received an anonymous tip that Robert Blackard, 56, might be sexually abusing a young boy he was supposedly planning to adopt. The tip came from an individual who told of exchanging troubling Facebook messages with Blackard (seen in the adjacent Facebook photo).

After a check with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that the group had received prior tips about Blackard engaging in “alleged inappropriate on-line communications with one or more minor boys,” Officer Tina Noe gave birth to “Greg Strahl.”

According to his Facebook profile, “Strahl” lived in Rock Island, where he did not enjoy attending junior high school. “Welp, i g2 jr high and dunt like it. it stinks!!! cnt wate till HS. YA! umm, i like ice cr , games and hangin wit frinds. I get picked on alot, but im nice,” “Strahl” noted on his Facebook page.

To apparently establish the homosexual bona fides of “Strahl,” Officer Noe made sure to indicate that the teen was a fan of Aiken and “Gay Rights.” The boy’s favorites also purportedly included Bieber, Xbox, “Rainbows!,” a local water park, and the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series.

The “Strahl” profile--which remains online--includes a photo of a fresh-faced boy. As detailed in a U.S. District Court affidavit sworn by Noe, the image (seen below) actually depicts “a known cooperating adult when he was thirteen years of age.”

After establishing the account, “Strahl” sent a friend request to Blackard, who “quickly accepted” it. In a subsequent exchange of private messages, “Strahl” claimed to have intended the original friend request for a school pal with a similar name as Blackard. “ohhh crp my bad!,” “Strahl” wrote in a June 2012 message.

Despite the initial misdirected communication, “Strahl” and Blackard spent the next seven months exchanging messages, which eventually became sexually explicit. Blackard made frequent references to sex, porn, and nudity, and wrote that he looked forward to hugging and kissing ”Strahl.” He also wrote about engaging in sexual activity with the teenager, and sent “Strahl” a photo of “a white male’s penis,” Noe reported.

Blackard was arrested February 1 when he arrived at a McDonald’s, where he was expecting to pick up “Strahl” after school for a Friday night sleepover. He was charged with attempted enticement of a minor, a felony carrying a minimum 10-year prison sentence. Blackard, who remains in custody, in scheduled for a detention hearing tomorrow in U.S. District Court in Rock Hill.

Blackard’s Facebook page offers few biographical details, though his “Likes” include “Bareback” and “Hot Guys.” He also “liked” “Strahl”’s profile photo and wrote “That looks awesome” next to a water park photo “Strahl” posted. Additionally, in 2010 Blackard “liked” a page that called on Facebook to bar registered sex offenders from using the social networking site. (4 pages)