FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A Stockton man identified as a “would-be” child sexual predator was arrested Wednesday night in Fresno in a undercover operation by an interagency internet child crime task force, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
John Plappert, 39, of Stockton, unknowingly contacted an undercover detective with the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force as they were monitoring social media platforms for potential sexual solicitations toward children as part of their regular duties, said spokesman Tony Botti. He began asking about whether the detective had access to children.
Plappert then expressed a desire to rape a 9-year-old girl while the undercover detective watched.
The 6 feet, 305 pound Plappert requested to meet with the child in Fresno, Botti said. ICAC detectives agreed and arrived at a predetermined location Wednesday night with the suspect, who had driven from two hours away and arrested him.
Officials stressed that no actual child was ever used or placed into danger during the operation.
Botti said law enforcement would like to remind the public to be vigilant when it comes to visiting websites and social media platforms. Parents should also monitor their children’s internet usage and be aware of the applications they are using.
Parents are also advised to keep an open dialogue with their children in order to build trust.
Online predators often pretend to be someone else in order to lure their victims in and take advantage of them, the Sheriff’s Office said. Teach children to be wary of the person on the other end of the chat as many times people are not who they say they are.
The public is urged to report any suspicious behavior right away to law enforcement or file a cyber tip through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
ICAC is composed of 64 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies from nine Valley counties. It is dedicated to protecting children online and investigating crimes committed against children, which are facilitated by the internet and computer usage.