WILMINGTON, Del. – A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Wednesday for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. The plea is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Scott Allen Rupert, 43, of Pottstown, Pa., pleaded guilty at a hearing in U.S. District Court, District of Delaware.
Rupert was previously convicted of a child sex offense and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced April 4, 2013.
"Sexual predators are systematically abusing and endangering the welfare of our nation's children by using the Internet to target innocent children for the purpose of engaging in statutory rape and the production of child pornography." said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. "We will use every tool at our disposal to track these individuals down and bring them to justice."
According to court documents, Rupert contacted an undercover federal agent posing as a 14-year-old girl in a Yahoo chat room Dec. 2, 2011. Within minutes of beginning the first of over 20 online chats leading to his arrest, Rupert learned that the undercover agent was a 14-year-old girl and asked "her" to meet him for sexual activity. In the ensuing weeks, Rupert and the agent engaged in numerous online conversations about sex acts that they would engage in, with Rupert transmitting sexually explicit images of himself to the fictitious minor via online picture sharing software. They also made arrangements to meet at Bellevue State Park on a weekday when the fictitious minor would stay home from school.
Rupert was arrested Jan. 9 after he traveled from his Pottstown home to Bellevue State Park to meet the fictitious 14-year-old girl for sexual activity.
This is the second time Rupert has been arrested and charged with online child enticement offenses. He was arrested in April 2006 in a similar online sting operation conducted by the Virginia State Police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, while he was on active duty in the U.S. Navy and stationed in Norfolk, Va.
In July 2006, Rupert was convicted in general court martial of enticement of a minor under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He was sentenced to confinement in the Navy Brig and was released June 24, 2008, and registered as a sex offender.
Following the plea hearing, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III, District of Delaware, said, "Those like Mr. Rupert who use the Internet to repeatedly attempt to meet and sexually abuse children will be subjected to decades-long, mandatory sentences in federal prison."
This investigation is 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-2ICE 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.