KNOXVILLE (WATE) – More details were revealed in a case involving a Monroe County man who was arrested for attempting to have sex with a Knoxville teenager. A complaint was filed in U.S. District Court this week.
Justin Phelps, 26, was arrested on March 13 and charged with solicitation of a minor and violation of the sex offender registry. He now faces federal charges due to the complaint.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received information that someone was communicating with a 13-year-old girl online in an attempt to engage in sexual acts.
According to the complaint, Phelps created a Facebook account pretending to be a 13-year-old girl, in order to contact the victim. After talking with the victim through Facebook Messenger, he used another account pretending to be a teenage boy in order to ask for sexual acts.
The complaint says the suspect came to the victim’s home after some time. When the suspect opened the victim’s bedroom window, the victim’s mother came into the room after hearing the dog bark. The suspect ran away after seeing the mom.
The victim’s mother says she told her husband and they called 911.The victim told her parents of her communication with the suspect.
According to the complaint, the victim’s parents pretended to be their daughter in order to communicate with the suspect. The parents believed the two Facebook accounts were the same person.
When the suspect came back to the home for a second time, he saw the victim’s father armed. The mother says her husband was trying to “protect his family.”
The parents called law enforcement and gave them the information from the social media messages.
A state agency was able to determine that the social media accounts that contacted the victim were from the same IP address, according to the complaint.
The account of the 17-year-old boy was linked to a phone number registered to Phelps. The same number was listed on the Sex Offender Registry. Phelps was convicted of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor in 2011.
Police say they have received information that there may be other victims in this case. The suspect is now under custody of the United Stated States Marshal.