An Abbotsford man attending university in Washington State has been arrested after allegedly making sexual comments online to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl.
Duane Edward Stewart, 23, made his first appearance in the Whatcom County jail courtroom on Friday, when his bail was set at $2,500. He was booked on a charge of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
Stewart is a communications student at Western Washington University (WWU). He grew up in Abbotsford, having attended John Maclure Elementary from 1996-2000, and then graduating from W.J. Mouat Secondary, where he played for the Mouat Hawks football team as a centre and defensive tackle.
He competes on the WWU cross-country team as a long-distance runner.
WWU Police Chief Randy Stegmeier said Stewart was arrested last Thursday in his apartment on the university campus.
He said Stewart came to their attention after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was notified by a member of the Vancouver Police Department’s vice squad, who was posing online as a 13-year-old girl.
It is alleged that Stewart communicated with the “teen” and said he was 19 years old.
“The messages (allegedly) became very sexually explicit and he solicited this supposed 13-year-old girl, asking her to commit sexual acts with him,” Stegmeier said.
Vancouver Police traced the IP address of the messages to Stewart’s computer at WWU and notified Homeland Security, which, in turn, brought the case to the attention of the university police.
WWU police seized Stewart’s computer and will be requesting a warrant to do a forensic search, Stegmeier said.
If convicted, Stewart faces up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. He cannot leave the state while the case is before the courts in Washington.