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MOUNT PLEASANT — On Wednesday, the Racine County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested a 56-year-old Indiana man who reportedly drove to Racine County for the purpose of a sexual liaison with whom he thought were two underage girls.

“Today, my team is one arrest closer to ridding our streets of these disgusting scumbags,” Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said in a release issued Thursday morning. “Make no mistake, an individual driving all day from another state to have sexual contact with children is someone the Racine Sheriff’s Office ICAC task force takes great pride in arresting.”

Richard A. Barney, of the 11000 block of West 131st Place in Cedar Lake, Indiana, was charged with felony counts of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 12, attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 16 and three counts of possession of child pornography.

Barney was arrested near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway 20, where he found not a mother and two young daughters but “a dozen of Racine County’s finest,” the sheriff said.

He said the online flirtation between Barney and an ICAC investigator started just last week — a much shorter lead-up to an attempted meet-up than is often required to snare a sexual predator.

According to the criminal complaint and the news release:

An investigator saw an ad on Craigslist titled “Taboo.” The post was allegedly created by a man who said he was seeking seeking men or women, specifically those into taboo acts “with no limits.” The ad provided a screen name on the social media application KIK.

Based on training and experience in the ICAC unit, the investigator believed the ad indicated an interest in a sexual relationship with children.

Online conversations

The investigator made contact with the KIK screen name, later identified as Barney. He posed as a single mother named “Karen” who had two daughters: 11-year-old “Emily” and 15-year-old “Kate.”

During online conversations, Barney reportedly indicated he had an interest in having a long-term sexual relationship with the two girls and indicated he had been involved in this sort of activity in the past.

After exchanging cell phone numbers, Barney text messaged the investigator posing as “Karen,” and the two made plans to meet on Thursday at a business near Highway 20 and I-94. The plan was to then move to a nearby hotel where Barney would engage in sexual acts with the two young girls, the complaint states.

Thursday, Barney allegedly text messaged “Karen,” asking to meet at a different business in the same area instead. He was arrested en route, reportedly in possession of Viagra and a cell phone.

“This is a harsh reminder that there are pedophiles trolling the internet, day and night, with one disgusting agenda,” Schmaling said. “That said, I urge all parents to monitor your child’s social media and internet interactions. Report all suspicious and questionable conversations to the authorities immediately.”

During his initial appearance, Barney was assigned a cash bond of $100,000. His status was unknown as of Thursday afternoon, online records show.

Barney’s next appearance is a preliminary hearing on Wednesday at the Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.

“Today, my team is one arrest closer to ridding our streets of these disgusting scumbags.” Christopher Schmaling,
Racine County Sheriff