GarCo seeks soldier on sex assault charges
Post Independent Staff
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office issued an arrest warrant Monday for a Fort Carson-based Army soldier suspected of having sex with a 12-year-old Garfield County girl.
The suspect, Spc. Lennon C. Park, 27, of Lehi, Utah, is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on charges he also had sex with two 14-year-old Utah girls. The charges were filed in Salt Lake City District Court.
In addition to the state charges in Utah, Park is being investigated by the FBI on possible child pornography violations.
Park, a U.S. Army specialist who was stationed in Iraq from April 6, 2003, to Feb. 25, 2004, allegedly used a laptop computer to enter Internet chat rooms and make contact with the girls. At least some of the Internet contact happened while he was stationed overseas, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said.
A specialist is the Army rank between private first class and corporal.
Fort Carson spokesman Richard Bridges said as of Monday, the Army was not pursuing charges against Park.
According to Vallario, Park is suspected of meeting the girls in Colorado and Utah while he was on leave from the Army in late February and March. He is suspected of having sex with three girls: two 14-year-olds and the Garfield County 12-year-old.
Although the Garfield County affidavit for Park’s arrest was not available on Monday because charges have not yet been filed here, Vallario said the two charges listed on the warrant against Park are sexual assault on a child and enticement of a child.
West Valley City, Utah, police detective Eric Anderson, a member of the state’s multi-jurisdictional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said he cracked the case in March.
Anderson said he was first contacted by Park while posing as a teenage girl in an Internet chat room, eventually setting up a time and place to meet Park.
“What happened was, he was chatting with me undercover,” Anderson said. “He was basically arranging a meeting.”
Anderson said Park arranged a meeting at the supposed girl’s junior high school during the day March 17 while school was in session.
“He wanted her to sneak out. That’s when I found him and made the traffic stop,” Anderson said.
Park was arrested and charged with enticement of a child. Anderson said Park then confessed to having sex with three underage girls.
“I did a traffic stop and he confessed to the real victims,” he said. “The investigation progressed from there.”
Park was arrested in Utah on April 1 and charged with one count of rape of a child, five counts of sex abuse of a minor, five counts of enticing a minor over the Internet, and one count of forcible sex abuse, Salt Lake County Prisoner Information Center records showed. He’s been in jail since April 1 on $250,000 bond.
The Garfield County warrant lists a bond of $100,000.
Anderson said his task force and the FBI are investigating Park for additional charges of manufacturing child pornography. State and federal charges could be filed.
As of Monday, no charges had been filed in Colorado’s 9th District Court, but Vallario said he expects the district attorney’s office to file charges soon.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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