A St. Helens man was arrested for sex crimes after getting caught up a sting operation carried out by a vigilante.
Christopher Ross Scheuermann, 28, of St. Helens was charged with communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, a misdemeanor, and felony counts of attempted rape of a child in the second and third degree. He was also charged for driving with a suspended license. His bail was $50,000.
Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Scheuermann in Kelso, Wash. after he attempted to make contact with what he believed was a pair of young girls. Upon arriving at their chosen meeting spot, Scheuermann discovered he was tricked. Instead of meeting two underage girls, Scheuermann was confronted by Kelso resident Curtis Hart, a vigilante and local Libertarian Party activist.
Hart used the social media application Whisper to fool Scheuermann into believing he was chatting with a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl. Whisper allows users to make anonymous posts that may be responded to publicly or privately, with user concealing their identities through aliases.
This was not Hart’s first attempt to catch a predator. While “trolling” the internet with a friend, Hart said he stumbled upon a disturbing post that inspired him to throw out some bait and try to expose a sexual predator in the community. Within minutes he had his hooks in a possible offender. In an odd twist to the story, the person Hart connected with was a former schoolmate.
Hart arranged to meet his target at a park in his area, claiming the target would meet the 14-year-old daughter of Curtis Hart (a fictional person). That incident led to the arrest of Adam Olson, a 36-year-old Castle Rock resident. Hart said he and a group of friends at the scene convinced Olson to call 911 on himself, turning himself over to authorities. Olson recently pleaded guilty to communication with a minor for immoral purposes and was required to register as a sex offender.
In the Scheuermann case, Hart said he initially posed online as 14-year-old girl, but after Scheuermann exposed his genitals in a photo within their first few messages of their interaction, Hart said he offered to provide an additional minor, a 12-year-old Thai girl, at Scheuermann’s request. Hart said Scheuermann offered to provide drugs, alcohol and McDonald’s fast food for the meeting. Hart also alleged that Scheuermann wrote the names of the invented girls on his genitals with a ballpoint pen prior to the meeting.
With Scheuermann en route from St. Helens to Kelso, Hart alerted law enforcement and requested their presence for the sting operation he initiated. Hart said when he confronted Scheuermann he made it clear that there were no girls and that law enforcement had been alerted. Scheuermann attempted to flee back to St. Helens, and Hart said he tried to block Scheuermann’s vehicle with his own, which resulted what Hart described as a very low-speed collision. Scheuermann was stopped and arrested in Kelso a short time later.
The Daily News in Longview, Wash. reported that Scheuermann admitted to coming to Kelso from St. Helens with the intent of having sex with two “girls.” The newspaper said Scheuermann told a deputy he had two phones in his vehicle, a regular-use cell phone and one another for communicating with the minors. While retrieving the two phones from Scheuermann’s vehicle, the deputy also found a box of condoms, according to The Daily News.
Hart said his motivation comes from his desire for a free society, something important to his Libertarian ideals. He is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Lower Columbia College and plans to work against the human slave trade in the future. He added that any one of the individuals he had encountered on Whisper might have been a human slave trafficker.
“Human trafficking is a much bigger problem in our area than people realize,” Hart said.
Citing a video by Tony Stiles, the founder of the anti-human trafficking organization Arrows Foundation, Hart said, “What would you do if you knew your kid was going to be kidnapped tomorrow – would you sit there and do nothing, or would stand up and do something – it happens all the time.”
He said human traffickers load their victims up on drugs and force them into a life of sex slavery, moving them around constantly to keep them from being discovered by their loved ones or authorities.
The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14, according to FBI statistics, and human slavery is considered a multi-billion dollar criminal industry with millions of victims worldwide.