Prosecutor: NJ man sent rideshare to pick up ‘14-year-old girl’ for sex
🔷 A South Jersey man is accused of trying to arrange to meet a young teen
🔷 The man had sent sexually explicit messages to the ‘teen’
🔷 He allegedly booked a rideshare trip for the girl — actually an undercover agent
A 27-year-old Gloucester County man has been accused of trying to arrange a sexual encounter with someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.
Todd Merinuk, of West Deptford, was arrested on March 16 after emerging to meet a rideshare vehicle that he had booked for the teen's Mercer County pickup, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri.
Merinuk has been 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.
NJ man has explicit chats with ‘14-year old girl,’ actually police agent
Three weeks earlier, Merinuk had begun chatting with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old female.
The chat included multiple sexually explicit messages, a photo sent by Merinuk of an adult male penis and statements by Merinuk that he wanted to meet in person to engage in various sexual acts.
The agent was working with detectives from the prosecutor’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, investigating those trying to exploit children via an “anonymous social media platform,” Onofri said.
Merinuk was taken into custody by members of both the Mercer County and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office as well as federal agents.
The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Merinuk pending trial.
Anyone with information about possible online exploitation or sexual abuse of children has been urged to contact the office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit at 609-989-6568 or the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force tip line at 888-648-6007.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.