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ST. GEORGE — A Utah man was arrested Tuesday and accused of soliciting explicit pictures from girls across the country — some as young as 11-years old.
Johnathan Paul Sperry, 25, of St. George, was arrested Tuesday by the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and booked into jail in Washington County. He was formally charged on Wednesday in 7th District Court with nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony; three counts of enticing a minor by internet, and five counts of dealing in harmful material to a minor, both third-degree felonies.
The investigation began on March 17 when investigators from the Auburn Police Department in Indiana contacted authorities in Utah. Indiana detectives investigating another case said they came across evidence on an 11-year-old girl's phone of sexually explicit Snapchat conversations with a person whose username is "Groovydragon."
While reviewing messages, police discovered "Groovydragon" had requested nude pictures and videos from the young girl, and also sent her at least one video in return, according to a police booking affidavit. "Groovydragon" was later determined to be Sperry, according to police.
As investigators looked deeper into Sperry's Snapchat account by serving search warrants, they found a pattern of behavior where Sperry used the Snapchat account "to target juvenile social media app users and either solicit files of child pornography or child sexual abuse material and/or send nude photos of himself," the affidavit states.
Investigators identified four other conversations with girls in which Sperry identifies himself as a 20-year-old, while two of the girls state they are 16, according to the affidavit. Police say the other two girls told Sperry they were 11. Despite informing him of their ages, Sperry engaged in sexually graphic conversations with each girl and requested pictures and videos, the affidavit alleges.
Police said they believe "further investigation will reveal more victims," the arrest report states. "Johnathan Sperry has shown a pattern of targeting juveniles, specifically juveniles as young as 11 years old ... (and) has repeatedly solicited juveniles to record themselves conducting acts classified as child pornography or child sexual abuse.
"Jonathan has contacted several young girls between the ages of 11 and 16 around the country to solicit nude photos," the affidavit concluded in summary as investigators requested he be held in jail without the possibility of posting bail pending the filing of formal charges.