2017-12-06 / Front Page

Man pleads guilty to soliciting Lapeer teen for sex via Facebook

810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

Kenneth Zaetsch Kenneth Zaetsch LAPEER — A 34-year-old Imlay City man pled guilty Monday in Lapeer County District Court to accosting a child for “immoral purposes.”

Kenneth G. Zaetsch told Judge Laura Cheger Barnard that the “immoral purposes” were sex, when Lapeer County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney David Campbell asked for clarification for the court record.

Zaetsch faces up to four years in prison and having to register as a Tier II sex offender with the state, which would require him to register for at least 25 years.

Zaetsch, through court-appoint- ed attorney Bernard Jocuns, waived his preliminary examination and the case was bound over from Lapeer County District Court to Lapeer County Circuit Court, where he will be sentenced Feb. 5 by Judge Nick Holowka.

“This is a success story in the first line of defense,” said Mike Sharkey, Lapeer County Prosecuting Attorney. “The parents of a 14-year-old were involved enough with their child to know what he was doing on his phone.”

Sharkey also noted that “Local law enforcement obtained the necessary evidence so that the Prosecutor’s Office could authorize criminal charges.”

“Fortunately, the child was not harmed and is safe,” Sharkey said.

Lapeer Police Dept. Det./Sgt. Craig Gormley said the case was handled by his department because the 14-year-old minor involved is from the city of Lapeer.

According to Gormley, Zaetsch created a series of fake Facebook profiles as part of an elaborate scheme to solicit others for sex.

“In this particular case, it involved a minor, which is against the law,” Gormley said. “His whole focus was using social media to solicit people for sexual favors.”

Gormley said Zaetsch would essentially create fake female profiles to establish communication with others, then exploit that original interaction via another fake profile.

“So there would be a couple of different profiles,” Gormley said. “He would be using one to sort of start the communication, and then use the other to play off that original female profile to meet an individual.”

Gormley noted there were “several complaints” about Zaetsch with other departments, including Imlay City and the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept.

“This activity’s been going on before, just never with a minor,” Gormley said. “This is the first time that there was a minor involved with a solicitation.”

Gormley noted that the incident leading up to charges filed against Gormley was also unique “in that the 14-year-old was actually trying to manipulate (Zaetsch) into getting free stuff” like alcohol and cigarettes.

“And you have Mr. Zaetsch who was trying to solicit for the sexual favors,” Gormley said.

Gormley said the case is another reminder of the importance of being vigilant when it comes to interacting with others via social media.

“Be aware,” Gormley said. “You don’t know who’s on the other end of that social media line. Anybody can create a profile and you have to be very careful when you are giving personal information or communicating with people, but you just don’t know.”

Sharkey says Zaetsch is out of jail on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

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