A multi-state operation intended to nab adults who prey sexually on children has resulted in the arrests of a police officer and a preacher, among others, The Bergen Record reports.
Police in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania carried out “Operation Home Alone” in an attempt to nab child predators in and around the tri-state area. Authorities made 16 arrests of men from those three states, including the arrest of one man who allegedly drove over 100 miles, thinking he was going to meet an underage child for sex, when in fact he was headed to meet an undercover cop.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that the week-long sting is indicative of how pervasive the problem of sexual predators is in the area.
“If we extended the investigation, we could catch 16 people a week.”
Two of the men caught up in the sting are men that children and parents should, in most circumstances, be inclined to trust — a police officer and a minister.
The police officer nabbed in the investigation is Peter Tuchol, who, until last week, was a member of the Ridgewood, New Jersey Police Department. As The Bergen Record reported at the time, he was arrested last week after he allegedly pursued an undercover cop posing as a 15-year-old girl.
Ridgewood cop Peter Tuchol Jr. appears in court for detention hearing https://t.co/9enXPc70La— NorthJersey.com (@northjersey) April 18, 2019
Authorities say that Tuchol sent text messages and made phone calls to the “girl,” and even offered to send an Uber to her so they could “hang out” or “do something more physical.”
“I know ur young. But can u be an adult please.”
The “girl” even offered Tuchol an out, saying she didn’t want to have any more contact with him, but Tuchol allegedly persisted.
He has since been placed on leave from the police force and is forbidden from using dating apps and having unsupervised contact with children until his case is resolved.
Also nabbed in the investigation was Roger Arroyo, 37, a traveling minister from Philadelphia. As WPVI-TV reports, Arroyo, like Tuchol, allegedly made contact with a person whom he believed was an underage girl but was actually an undercover cop.
Grewal notes that, although all of the “underage girls” used to lure alleged predators were, in fact, undercover cops, real underage girls are also using dating apps, and parents need to be aware.
“Parents need to know that the profiles of underage girls and boys we posted on social media to catch these offenders could easily have been profiles of their own children, who might also be targeted by predators on chat apps and popular gaming sites.”