A police detective from Nevada was arrested for sexual crimes against a minor after he crossed state borders to engage in sexual acts with a 15 year old boy in St. George, Utah.
50 year old Gary Erickson was booked into a Nevada jail awaiting extradition to Utah for charges of multiple sexual crimes against a minor in Utah that started with a dating app. In March 2018 Erickson and the 15 year old male juvenile met on a dating app called Grindr, a social app that is used primarily by same-sex attracted males. In order to obtain a Grindr account, the teen lied and stated that he was an adult. When Erickson and the teen started exchanging messages, the juvenile then told Erickson he was actually a minor. Despite this, Erickson continued to send and receive sexually explicit messages and arranged to meet face to face in August.
Meeting in person
Following Erickson’s visit to St. George to meet the15 year old boy, the parents of the juvenile found out that the teen and Erickson had been exchanging nude pictures. Their son then told them that he had met a man online who called himself Eric Smith and that the two had arranged to meet at an aquatic center in St. George to engage in sexual acts. The teen then stated that in the locker room of the aquatic center, Erickson and the minor engaged in inappropriate touching. Erickson then inquired whether or not the youth wanted to have sexual intercourse but the youth declined, telling Erickson he needed to go. Following this alarming information, the boy’s parents alerted police who were able to identify “Eric Smith” as Erickson.
Felony and misdemeanor charges
Erickson is facing multiple felony charges for dealing harmful materials to a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as a misdemeanor charge for sexual abuse of a minor. These charges are described below:
• Dealing harmful material to a minor is a third degree felony and is described in Utah Code 76-10-1206 as when a person “. . . knowing or believing that a person is a minor, or having negligently failed to determine the proper age of a minor, the person intentionally:
(a) Distributes or offers to distribute, or exhibits or offers to exhibit, to a minor or a person the actor believes to be a minor, any material harmful to minors;
(b) Produces, performs, or directs any performance, before a minor. . . that is harmful to minors; or
(c) Participates in any performance, before a minor . . . that is harmful to minors. “
• Sexual exploitation of a minor is a second degree felony and is described by 76-5b-201 as “when the person:
i. Knowingly produces, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute child pornography; or
ii. Intentionally distributes or views child pornography;”
• While the charges related to sending and receiving nude pictures are punishable as felonies, the charge against Erickson for sexual abuse of a child was a class A misdemeanor. Section 76-5-401.1 of the Utah Criminal Code states “An individual commits sexual abuse of a minor if the individual is four years or more older than the minor and, under circumstances not amounting to [rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual assault, unlawful sexual activity with a minor], the individual touches the anus, buttocks, public area, or any part of the genitals of the minor, or touches the breast of a female minor, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with the minor, with the intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any individual or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any individual regardless of the sex of any participant.”
Child, minor, or 16-17 year old
Many wonder why the charges against Erickson for sending and receiving nude pictures carried more severe penalties than the charge for the actual touching of the boy’s private parts. This lesser charge could be based on the teen’s age at the time of the incident.
• If the juvenile was 16 years old but younger than 18, the charges against the other individual for sexual touching [not including oral sex or any sexual penetration] would be a class A misdemeanor.
• If the juvenile was considered a minor, which by Utah state law is defined as “an individual who is 14 years of age or older, but younger than 16 years of age, at the time the sexual activity described . . .occurred”, then the charges would be likewise be a class A misdemeanor.
• If the juvenile was under 14 years of age, he would be considered a child and the charges for sexual abuse of a child would then be punishable as a second degree felony.
For more information on sexual charges related to juveniles and how age plays a factor in the severity of those charges, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney.