FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A Clovis man has pleaded guilty to attempted online persuasion of a child, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, in May 2021, 55-year-old Paul Joseph Espinosa noticed an undercover agent’s Instagram profile and sent her a direct message.

The undercover agent told Espinosa she was 15 years old, but Espinosa continued to send her direct messages and call her using Instagram audio. Espinosa asked the 15-year-old undercover persona for sexy pictures, and asked multiple times to meet up with her to cuddle, to “enjoy each other’s company at least for a night” and “lay there naked” and “enjoy each other.” Espinosa asked for the 15-year-old persona to send her a picture for his eyes only and sent her three sexually explicit photos of females when asking her for “naughty” pictures.

According to court documents, on June 26, 2021, Espinosa traveled from Clovis to Fresno to meet up with the intended victim because he wanted to engage in various forms of sexual activity with her, but when Espinosa arrived, he was placed under arrest.

Espinosa is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22. 2024, and faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.