Ken Paxton

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Attorney General Abbott's Cyber Crimes Officers Arrest Austin, Round Rock Men Attempting To Meet A 'child'

AUSTIN - Officers from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit arrested an Austin man in Bastrop County this morning who made arrangements via an Internet chat room to meet what he thought would be a 15-year-old girl, allegedly for sex.

(Coelho, Cottingham)

Conrad Coelho, 38, an employee of Computer Science Corp., is the 17th person arrested since May under similar circumstances by the Cyber Crimes Unit. Fifteen of those arrested have already been indicted by grand juries in various Central Texas jurisdictions.

Coelho has been charged with attempted sexual performance of a child, a third-degree felony. Coelho thought he was talking in a chat room with a teenaged girl. In reality, it was a Cyber Crimes investigator.

"It is a relief to know that we have the means and the will to get child predators off the streets and in jail," said Attorney General Abbott. "We know they're out there and they'll continue to prey on children. We'll use the resources at our disposal to stop them before they try to carry out their plans."

Randolph W. Cottingham, 26, of Round Rock, was also arrested in Bastrop (October 8), after he arrived at a prearranged meeting place, a retail store. Cyber Crimes officers, who had posed as a 13-year-old girl in a chat room, took him into custody without incident.

Cottingham, who is employed by Co Com Cabling Systems, a Pflugerville broad-band service, was also charged with attempted sexual performance of a child.

Donald Lee Westbrook III, 21, of Austin, was arrested the first week of September in Bastrop as he arrived to meet a "child." A grand jury indicted him on September 19, charging him with attempted sexual performance of a child.

The Bastrop County Sheriff's Department assisted Cyber Crimes investigators in these arrests.

The 14 other defendants previously arrested and indicted for similar offenses are awaiting trial in Travis, Hays, Kendall, Lampasas and Bell counties.