A Centralia man has been charged for allegedly interacting with a decoy account for a 15-year-old male on a dating website in May.
Centralia Police Department officers made contact with the person operating the decoy account on May 28 after the individual reportedly confronted the defendant, 66-year-old Dennis F. Thompson, at the Apex Store in Centralia.
That’s where Thompson is accused of planning to meet the decoy 15-year-old to “go to Thompson’s storage unit nearby to have sex,” according to court records.
When contacted by police, Thompson allegedly admitted to engaging with the decoy but told police he believed the decoy was 18.
Police reviewed screenshots of messages and phone records connected to the decoy account, hosted on the dating website Plenty of Fish, and reportedly confirmed Thompson had sexual conversations with the decoy and sent sexually-explicit photos.
In the messages, the decoy “indicated that he was 15, in high school and only had a learner’s permit,” according to court documents.
In a message sent by Thompson while he and the decoy were organizing a meeting, Thompson allegedly “indicated that he could ‘get in a lot of trouble for this,’ referring to having sex with the decoy,” according to court documents.
Centralia police arrested Thompson Wednesday afternoon and he has been charged with two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Despite Thompson’s lack of criminal history, Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead requested that Judge James Lawler set Thompson’s bail at $50,000 secured.
“Given the facts of this case, he is a threat to the community, particularly young people,” he said at Thompson’s July 15 preliminary hearing.
Defense attorney Rachael Tiller, however, requested that Lawler set Thompson’s bail at $20,000 unsecured given the lack of prior criminal history and his cooperation in the police investigation.
Lawler opted to grant Halstead’s request, setting bail at $50,000.
“He is a danger to the community,” Lawler said.
Thompson’s next court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for July 22.