Man Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Electronic Solicitation of Minor Via the Internet

Man Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Electronic Solicitation of Minor Via the Internet

A Prince William County man who was convicted of trying to arrange a meeting with a Leesburg Police Department detective posing online as a 14-year-old girl has been sentenced to 19 years in the Virginia Department of Corrections and an additional 20 years of supervised probation.

Russel Thomas Versage, 48, was sentenced Jan. 14 in Loudoun County Circuit Court by Judge J. Howe Brown Jr.

Versage had pleaded guilty to  one count of electronic solicitation of a minor younger than 15; one count electronic solicitation of a minor younger than 15, second of subsequent offense; attempted indecent liberties with a minor younger than 15, two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer, one count of eluding, and two counts of misdemeanor hit and run.  Brown imposed a total active sentence of 19 years in the Virginia Department of Corrections.

According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, an LPD detective posing as a 14-year-old girl responded to an ad on Craigslist.  Versage responded to the detective and they engaged in regular online communication for two months.  During that time, Versage sent the detective pornographic photographs of himself, requested naked photographs from the “14-year-old,” and propositioned sex several times.  The two agreed to meet in March 2018.

On March 12, Versage arrived at the meeting location with the expectation of meeting the teenager, but when he spotted law enforcement in the area he fled the scene and proceeded to a nearby parking lot and began texting the “girl.”  Moments later, law enforcement arrived at Versage’s location and directed him to exit his vehicle. Versage ignored the directions and drove away, striking a parked vehicle and a police cruiser.  Versage was subsequently arrested in a neighboring county.

“While the internet has a great number of benefits, it has sadly become a breeding ground for child predators,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman said.  “As parents, it is vital that we monitor our children’s internet and mobile phone activity and continue to have open dialog with them about these dangers.”

Versage pleaded guilty to the offenses on Aug. 27.

Brown imposed an additional five years of suspended time.  Upon his release, Versage will be placed on 20 years of supervised probation.

Pursuant to Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act, Versage will also be required to register as a sex offender.  Information about the Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry and those on it can be found on the Virginia State Police website: sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov.

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