- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

HURST, Texas (AP) - Authorities were tipped off months ago about a man who was arrested this week for allegedly conspiring with a teen on a scheme to sexually exploit younger children, but the investigation was delayed because the detective in charge went on medical leave.

Police in Hurst, near Fort Worth, were looking into information linking Randy Ray Wesson to child pornography in June, after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children forwarded details about a photograph on Instagram showing a man and a child in a sex act.

But, when the initial case hit a lull, the detective assigned to it went on leave for 10 weeks, according to Fort Worth Star Telegram and KXAS-TV reports Sunday. In the meantime, authorities say the 28-year-old Wesson enrolled a 17-year-old runaway in a Hurst elementary school under the guise that he was his 12-year-old son, as part of what investigators believe was an effort to target children there.

“The detective actually got injured and he was out for 10 weeks, so he just came back and picked this up,” Hurst police Sgt. Craig Teague told KXAS-TV.

Teague also told the Star-Telegram that the investigation initially wasn’t considered a high priority because it came in as a “single image case.”

Wesson was arrested this week after Hurst police raided his home. He faces federal charges of transporting and shipping child pornography.

Investigators say the 17-year-old enrolled in the elementary school using phony documents. The teen is jailed in Hurst and also faces child pornography charges. Jail records don’t list an attorney for him.

The teen told authorities he and Wesson had a sexual relationship. The teen’s arrest warrant indicates he was looking to exploit children for himself and Wesson.

According to court and arrest documents, meanwhile, Wesson admitted to police that he possessed about 42,000 illegal pornographic images - and had molested more than 100 children.

Federal prosecutors are now leading the case, which also involves Texas Child Protective Services, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A statement Friday from federal prosecutor did not list attorneys for Wesson, and further details have not been provided.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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