A 23-year-old man was found early Wednesday with two girls younger than 15. He was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and possessing child pornography.
Just after 2 a.m., a Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy checked on a suspicious vehicle near Dodge Hill, south of North Platte. Two of the vehicle’s occupants were girls — one a teenager and one younger, said Chief Deputy Roland Kramer. Both were younger than 15.
The man, 23, wasn’t fully clothed, Kramer wrote in a press release.
After talking to the two girls, deputies arrested the man on suspicion of first-degree sexual assault, possession of child pornography and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. They questioned him further at the Sheriff’s Office and are still investigating the case. More charges are possible, Kramer wrote in the release.
Kramer couldn’t comment on specifics of the case, but said that a young person who believes they are consenting is still a victim of child sexual assault. In Nebraska, the legal age of consent is 17 to prevent a perpetrator from manipulating a minor.
“They manipulate, they groom these children into thinking it’s OK,” Kramer said, “either online or in person.”
Kramer said that such cases are why deputies check on suspicious vehicles at Dodge Hill, area lakes, cemeteries and other areas.
“This is why we do hundreds and hundreds of suspicious vehicle (checks),” he said, adding that often people who are “just looking at the stars” become annoyed at law enforcement’s presence.
“Ninety percent of the time they’re not doing anything wrong,” he said. “But the other 10 percent of the time,” deputies catch a crime in process, he said.
Kramer encouraged parents to keep tabs on their children’s online and cellphone activities, even when it feels like they’re crossing barriers.
“Get in your kids’ grill,” he said. “Get in their business. It needs to be done. Know who they’re talking to.”