Santa Rosa police on Thursday morning arrested a man suspected of soliciting sex with a minor, a police sergeant said.
The minor was a Santa Rosa police detective posing as a 13-year-old girl, Sgt. Terry Anderson said.
Police learned in April that 42-year-old John Garate of Santa Rosa was communicating through social media with underage girls, Anderson said.
The detective with the police department’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigations Team began communicating online with Garate in June, Anderson said.
In frequent online conversations, Garate said he wanted the girl to be his girlfriend, asked for photos, said he wanted to take her to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and encouraged her to lie to her mother to avoid revealing her relationship, Anderson said.
“Gradually Garate initiated conversations of a sexual nature and said he wanted to meet her,” Anderson said in a statement.
Garate was arrested at 11:15 a.m. Thursday near Sonoma and Yulupa avenues after he arrived at a prearranged meeting, Anderson said.
He was booked in the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of lewd acts with a child under 14, sending harmful matter to a minor, communicating with a minor for the purpose of exploitation, and arranging to meet a minor to commit a lewd act, Anderson said.
Garate is being held under no bail because he violated his probation for a previous criminal matter, Anderson said.
Police are encouraging parents to check their children’s online activities and talk to them about safety, Anderson said.
Unrestricted access to the Internet and social media without supervision to make sure children are safe can cause many problems, Anderson said.
“Predators are out there and this is an example of how they manipulate and exploit children,” Anderson said.
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