- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

An Army sergeant major who traveled to the United States from his duty station in Italy reputedly to engage in sex with a 14-year-old girl he met in an Internet chat room has been arrested in a decoy operation involving local police in Naperville, Ill., and federal agents.

Sgt. Maj. Michael W. Clements, 42, was taken into custody at a restaurant in Naperville, where authorities said the 22-year Army veteran had arranged via the Internet to meet the teenage girl — who actually was an undercover officer.

The arrest was coordinated with Naperville police by agents from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd yesterday said the arrest, made last Friday, was part of an ongoing agency investigation known as Operation Predator, which has produced more than 2,000 child-predator and sex-offender arrests since July.

Sgt. Maj. Clements had been communicating online with the undercover officer for more than a year, Mr. Boyd said. After the arrest, Mr. Boyd said agents searched the sergeant major’s hotel room and automobile and seized two video cameras, a digital still camera and a laptop computer.

“Child sex predators lurk around virtual playgrounds just like they do at real playgrounds and other places where children gather,” said Elissa Brown, who heads the ICE office in Chicago.

Sgt. Maj. Clements was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Monday and charged with traveling in interstate commerce to have sex with a minor. He could get 15 years prison and a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.

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