A West Valley man who allegedly used public pay phones to solicit sex from young girls is behind bars after police, Valley Junior High officials and two of the man's intended victims wove a plan to snare him.
On Friday, Salt Lake County prosecutors charged Richard Simon Garcia, 28, West Valley, with one count of attempted unlawful sexual intercourse, a Class A misdemeanor and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a Class B misdemeanor. He was arrested April 24 by West Valley police, West Valley Lt. Charles Illsley said.
He is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on a $10,000 bond and an additional $25,000 bond for violating his parole for a 1996 conviction on charges of felony unlawful sexual intercourse.
Investigators say Garcia first made contact with his would-be victims April 20 over a pay phone at the Holiday Oil convenience store, 4100 S. 3200 West. According to police reports, he told the girls his pager had rung to that pay-phone number and he was calling back, striking up a conversation with them.
He allegedly asked one girl, 14, to describe her physical attributes to him. Then he asked if she would have sex with him, the police report says. She said she wasn't sure but did give him her home phone number. Garcia, who told the girl he was 18, called her at home that night and again
propositioned her. He also told her not to tell any adults what they had talked about or he would get sent to prison, the report states.
By April 24, Garcia and the girl had had several conversations. According to police reports, he called that morning about 6:30 and told her he planned to get her excused from school that day so they could meet for sex. He also wanted her to bring a friend.
Garcia allegedly called the school at 8:40 a.m. and identified himself as the girl's father, Richard, and he needed her sent home from school for an appointment. When the girl failed to appear, he called the school again.
According to police reports, after the third phone call, secretary Sherrie Hirst went in search of the girl. The two met in the hallway where the girl told Hirst that "Richard" wasn't her father and that she didn't want to leave. The girl then told Hirst and principal Jerrie Frank that the man wanted to meet her for sex.
School officials contacted West Valley police. Between them, they decided to let the girls leave the school, allowing Garcia to think they planned to meet him. Police followed the girls to Holiday Oil, where they talked to Garcia on the phone. He told them to walk to a Phillips 66 gas station, 4700 S. 3200 West. From there, Garcia reportedly gave the girls directions to his home on Meadow Wood Way.
After the girls walked past the home twice, Garcia exited the home and walked down the driveway, where he was arrested by police.
West Valley police are investigating to determine if Garcia used the same scheme to attract other victims.
"There are two messages out of this," Illsley said. "One is if you're a young girl, don't pick up a pay phone you hear ringing and describe yourself to someone. And two, if you're a school administrator and someone calls to say Ferris Bueller needs the day off, call back the name and phone number in your files and confirm it."
Illsley also said parents should take an active role in knowing who is making phone calls to their children. One parent did intercept a phone call from Garcia and thought it suspicious because his voice sounded "older" but chalked it up to the typical physical changes of adolescence.
In this case, the two girls were lucky, Illsley said.
"Had (the victim) not been intercepted in the hallway, this case might have turned out much different," he said.