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Child Exploitation

Former church employee pleads guilty to attempted online child enticement

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor in violation of federal law. The plea is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jeffrey Darlin, 55, of Swarthmore, Pa., pleaded guilty at a hearing in U.S. District Court, District of Delaware.

According to court documents, Darlin, a former facilities manager at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church began his online relationship with an undercover HSI special agent posing as a 14-year-old girl in a Yahoo chat room Jan. 21, 2012.

During their initial online chats, Darlin instructed the supposed 14-year-old high school cheerleader and gymnast how to delete all evidence of their online communications from 'her' computer and then engaged in numerous online conversations in which he repeatedly talked about teaching the fictitious minor how to engage in various sex acts. Using a computer located in his church office, Darlin sent the fictitious minor pictures of himself engaged in sexual acts, to illustrate the type of acts he would perform with 'her.' Darlin arranged to meet the fictitious minor at Bellevue State Park and then take 'her' to a hotel on Route 202 for sexual activity.

Darlin was arrested after arriving at Bellevue State Park Feb 10, 2012, for the pre-arranged meeting with the undercover special agent. Upon being advised of the arrest, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church officials terminated Darlin and cooperated fully in the criminal investigation. Darlin has been detained since his Feb. 10, 2012, arrest.

"Homeland Security Investigations is committed to stopping predators in their tracks. As shown here today, this defendant will no longer be a threat to our children," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. "This case is yet another example of the extraordinary collaborative efforts among law enforcement in Delaware, to protect the most vulnerable among us."

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-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.

HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative 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.