Staten Island man arrested after soliciting undercover detective posing as 13-year old for sex
Franklin Township, NJ
May 13, 2019- NEWS RELEASE
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor and Franklin Township Chief of Police Richard A. Grammar announced the arrest of Thomas McKernan, age 31 of Colonial Court, Staten Island, New York.
Prosecutor Robertson stated on May 10, 2019, at approximately 11:35 AM, after a month-long chat investigation that involved sexually-explicit communications, defendant McKernan traveled to a coffee shop on Cedar Grove Lane in the Somerset section of Franklin Township to engage in sexual activity with what he believed to be a 13-year old female but was, in fact, an undercover detective. Shortly after arriving, defendant McKernan was arrested without incident by personnel from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Unit and the Franklin Township Police Department Detective Bureau.
Prosecutor Robertson stated that during the chat conversations which were initiated by defendant McKernan, the undercover detective clearly identified herself as an underage girl and defendant McKernan engaged in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet for sex.
Prosecutor Robertson stated that, “it is a priority of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to protect our children from online predators who are taking advantage of the Internet’s anonymity and the access it allows to our children.” He stressed that law enforcement in Somerset County will be targeting social media platforms and chat applications being used by child predators to sexually exploit and lure children for sex.
Prosecutor Robertson stated that defendant McKernan was charged with 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and 3rd degree Attempt to Promote Obscene Materials and was lodged at the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.
Prosecutor Robertson and Chief Fodor request anyone with information to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 231-7100 or via the STOPit app. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office is utilizing the STOPit app as a platform to allow concerned citizens to provide information about crimes occurring in Somerset County. This app is completely anonymous and users are able to “chat” in real time with law enforcement, as well as send images and videos about crime. The app also has a Get Help section that provides phone numbers and links to important resources available in Somerset County. The STOPit app can be downloaded to your smartphone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: “SOMERSETNJ”. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or at www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE”. All anonymous Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.
NOTE: We are required by the Rules of Court to include herein a statement explaining that the charges are merely an accusation and that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.