(WASHINGTON) — A Secret Service officer assigned to the White House was arrested and charged with soliciting a minor and sending obscene material to what authorities say he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
The uniformed officer, Lee Robert Moore, was actually communicating online with an undercover agent, authorities said Thursday.
Federal and state charges revealed Thursday show that he is accused of sending explicit messages and of trying to arrange a meeting for a sexual encounter with a minor. He also allegedly asked for compromising pictures and video of the child.
Some of the sordid communication, which occurred over a period of weeks, allegedly took place while Moore was on duty, working at the White House.
“Sitting at box office style booth checking ID’s for entrance to building,” he allegedly wrote in one of his communications with the undercover officer.
The allegations sent shockwaves through an agency already trying to overcome scandals ranging from soliciting prostitutes to a fence jumper getting inside the White House.
“The Secret Service takes allegations of potential criminal activity extremely seriously,” a spokesperson for the Secret Service said.
Moore’s security clearance was suspended and he was placed on administrative leave after the incident was reported to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility on Nov. 6, according to the spokesperson. The Secret Service also took back his issued equipment and revoked all access to Secret Service facilities, according to the spokesperson.
The joint state and federal investigation began in August, when a Delaware State Police Detective went online to the social-media based application “Meet24″ posing as a 14-year-old girl. A man claiming to be a 30-year-old from Maryland engaged in online conversation, and they eventually moved over to the application Kik, authorities said.
Over Kik, they had very explicit conversations about sex and sexual experiences, according to the criminal complaint.
At one point, days into their conversations, the complaint states that Moore became suspicious, deleted his Kik profile, and said he needed reassurance that he was really talking to a teenager, However, the conversations continued as a second Delaware trooper then assumed the online identity, according to the complaint.
The investigation, which is still active, was conducted under Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Operation Predator, an initiative to protect children from sexual predators, along with local partners, authorities said.
On Nov. 6, Moore was notified by the Secret Service that he was being placed on administrative leave, and was told to report to the Maryland State Police, authorities said. When he showed up, he was arrested, authorities said, noting he is currently in custody at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Delaware.
He is expected to appear at the Kent County Court of Common Pleas in Delaware on Friday.
It was not immediately clear whether he had retained an attorney.
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