David Herman, 77, of Airmont, N.Y., and St. Croix, was arrested by HSI special agents at the St. Croix airport where he expected to meet the child. He is scheduled to appear Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge George W. Cannon for an initial appearance in St. Croix federal court.
According to court documents, beginning in November 2012, Herman initiated a series of chats on a website with an undercover officer from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Herman believed he was communicating with a 36-year-old single mother of a 6-year-old daughter.
Over the course of the following months, Herman had multiple telephone and online communications with the officer during which he indicated his desire to engage in sexual activity with the officer’s fictitious daughter. Herman also attempted to arrange illegal sexual encounters with the child in New York state and Bergen County.
In early 2013, Herman told the undercover officer that he would like to fly the pair to St. Croix so he could engage in sexual activity with the daughter. On Sept. 30, Herman purchased airline tickets for them to fly from LaGuardia Airport to St. Croix.
If convicted, Herman faces between 10 years and life in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.