By: Yuritza Arroyo
Mercer County authorities reported today that an investigation into online child exploitation has resulted in the arrest of a West Deptford Township man.
According to officials, Todd Merinuk, 27, West Deptford, is charged with two counts of second-degree attempted sexual assault, three counts of third-degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of second-degree attempted luring.
Officials say the prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Merinuk pending trial.
Approximately three weeks ago, detectives with the prosecutor’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit investigated individuals trying to exploit children online connected with a subject via an anonymous social media platform.
The individual, later identified as Merunik, began chatting with a detective who was working in an undercover capacity, posing as a 14-year-old female.
According to authorities, the chat included multiple explicit messages, a photo sent by Merinuk of an adult male genitals, and statements by Merinuk that he wanted to meet in person to engage in various sexual acts.
Authorities say on March 16, Merinuk sent a ride-share vehicle to an address in Mercer County to pick up the “14-year-old female” with whom he believed he was conversing in order to transport her to his location in Gloucester County.
Believing the victim had arrived to his location via ride share, Merinuk appeared and was taken into custody without incident by members of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.
According to officials, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.