A professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California has been indicted after allegedly engaging in online talks with an undercover FBI agent about selling photographs of child being sexually abused, KTVU reported.
West Sacramento resident Rodger Githens was accused of wanting to meet a 7-year-old girl for “sexual purposes” after talking to an undercover FBI agent masquerading as an uncle offering his niece, prosecutors with the Eastern District of California claim.
Authorities claim that Githens and the agent spoke via the gay messaging apps Grindr and Telegram.
In a news release issued on Thursday, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California provided the details of the case.
According to court documents, in late March 2023, Githens, using the profile “Tall laid back,” initiated contact with an account on the Grindr app controlled by an undercover FBI agent. Githens encouraged the undercover FBI agent to establish an account with the Telegram app, since it was considered more secure.
Githens several times discussed traveling to Fresno to meet the agent and a supposed 7-year-old niece for sexual purposes, but law enforcement served a search warrant at Githens’s residence on April 19, 2023, and seized multiple electronic devices. Agents discovered numerous Telegram chats on Githens’s phone, including several in which he was exchanging and commenting on videos of young children being sexually abused.
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A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Githens, and he was charged with receipt and distribution of images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the office said.
While allegedly planning to meet in Fresno, Githens reportedly said he would bring the girl candy and an Ariel doll, per Breitbart News.
During the online conversations, Githens allegedly revealed he is married to a man whose young nephew he molested once in the past, the outlet continued.
The University of the Pacific professor has since been placed on indefinite administrative leave, according to reports.
The school’s website says it was founded in 1851. “Established by pioneering Methodist ministers, it remains the only Methodist-affiliated university in California,” the site notes.
“If convicted, Githens faces five to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, a lifetime of supervised release, and forfeiture of any property used to facilitate commission of the offense,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.