By JOSH NEWTON
A Tahlequah man remains jailed at the Cherokee County Detention Center after his arrest for lewd acts or indecent proposals to a child.
Donald Lee Paden, 23, was arrested this month in Tahlequah as part of an online sting aimed at catching suspected sexual predators.
An investigation is still in progress, and the District Attorney’s Office will later receive case reports and consider whether to file formal charges against Paden.
The suspect is being held on a $40,000 bond.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he set up a fake online profile for a 13-year-old girl last August. He worked alongside
District Attorney Investigator Mike Moore, who is part of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as the case progressed.
Paden contacted whom he thought was a 13-year-old girl in August, using an online social network, and Snyder repeatedly told Paden he was talking to a 13-year-old girl.
“He told me it didn’t bother him,” said Snyder. “I told him numerous times. Later on, he started getting sexual and asking questions of a sexual nature.”
Snyder said the conversations continued through November, and while many of them were about everyday events, they often focused on sexual activities.
“He wanted the girl to have sex with him, but he said he knew it was against the law,” said Snyder.
Snyder said Paden eventually promised he wouldn’t get the girl pregnant, even if he didn’t bring condoms when they were to meet up. By that time, Snyder said, the fake “girl” had turned 14 years old based on the account information he used.
Snyder set up a meeting place for Nov. 10, and went with other officers to wait for Paden.
When Paden showed up, he allegedly tried to entice the “girl” outside, but was quickly met and arrested by police.
Paden reportedly admitted to authorities he intended to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. Officers searched Paden’s car and found numerous items, including several bottles of pills, bottles of alcohol, coloring books, and stuffed toys.
Court records out of Rogers County show Paden pleaded guilty as a youthful offender to a charge of lewd molestation in 2005, and was ordered to successfully complete a sex-offender treatment program under the threat of a 10-year prison sentence if he failed.
Subsequent reports on Paden’s treatment indicated he was doing “very well” and was making progress. He was released in 2008 and given permission to live with a family member in Cherokee County, court records show.
Snyder said it’s important for law enforcement to pursue those who might intend to commit sexual acts with children.
“We saved someone down the road,” said Snyder. “We want to ensure other kids aren’t talking to people like this; we want to prevent other children from being victimized.”