Charges: Man Texted Girl, 15, To Hire Her For Sex

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police arrested a 58-year-old West St. Paul man after he allegedly sent a 15-year-old girl a text message asking her for sex in exchange for $500, authorities said.

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office has charged John Tatum with one count of asking a teenager for sex in exchange for money and one count of possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. When arrested, Tatum had three small rocks of crack cocaine in his pocket, authorities said.

Court documents say that Tatum initially texted the victim at 11 p.m. on Jan. 6. The following day, the victim awoke to a message reading: “Would u ever consider getting intimate with me if u were 2 be paid $500 4 one nt?”

The message also attempted to confirm that the victim was not a minor, saying: “I had 2 b sure that u aren’t a minor or this would never b happening…but that doesn’t mean that to ask u this is alright either.” It also begged the victim not to tell her mother or anyone else.

But the victim said something, and police arrived at her residence at 10:35 a.m. There they learned the victim and her mother knew Tatum, because he did maintenance work at their previous residence.

At the police station, the victim allowed police to use her cell phone. An officer then sent Tatum a series of texts to which he responded, clarifying he was asking for sex. Police photographed the texts, according to court documents.

Police then went to Tatum’s apartment complex, found him in the hallway and arrested him. During the arrest, they searched Tatum and found a glass pipe and crack cocaine, court documents say.

Tatum agreed to give a statement in which he told police that no one else had used his cell phone and that he had written all the messages to the victim. Tatum told police he thought the victim was 18 and that when he wrote sex, he did not mean intercourse, court documents say.

If convicted of both felony charges, Tatum faces at total of up to 15 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $30,000.


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