PAROWAN — Seven men who police say were caught in an undercover sting last week face charges ranging from solicitation to commit child rape to solicitation to commit child kidnapping.
Six men, including two from out of state, were charged Thursday in 5th District Court. All of them believed they were paying to have sex with one or two 13-year-old girls, according to charging documents.
The group Veterans for Child Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to battling child sex trafficking, teamed up with local and federal law enforcement agencies in an undercover operation earlier this month to catch suspected child predators.
The operation included placing fake ads with a picture of two young girls on various social media websites. Several men responded to the ad offering to pay to have sex with one of both of the girls, charging documents state.
Among those charged on Thursday:
• Eugene Alvarado Jr., 46, of Sunnyvale, California, was charged with two counts of solicitation to commit rape of a child and two counts of solicitation to commit child kidnapping, all first-degree felonies. In addition, he was charged with two counts of dealing in harmful materials to a minor, a third-degree felony.
• Floyd Jennings, 71, of St. George, and James Michael Garrelts, 53, of Cedar City, were charged with two counts each of solicitation to commit rape of a child, a first-degree felony. Phillip Michael Gerstner, 30, of Jerome, Idaho, and Carlos Valenzuela Nunez, 30, of Enterprise, Washington County, were each charged with one count of solicitation to commit rape of a child, a first-degree felony.
• Trevor John Bodily, 31, of Clearfield, was charged with solicitation to commit rape of a child, and solicitation to commit sodomy on a child, both first-degree felonies; as well as failing to stop at the command of a law enforcer, a class A misdemeanor.
Alvarado, who drove to Iron County from California, told the undercover officers posing as the teen girls that "they could leave and not be found. He explained how to change their physical identity by cutting their hair, coloring their hair and writing a runaway note to their families," the charges state.
Prosecutors believe Alvarado's plan was to "kidnap the two 13-year-old girls and take them back today to California. He made statements about having them work in his bar as cocktail waitresses," the charges state. "During these conversations, the suspect asked the two females to dress up and put makeup on to see if they would pass for 18 years old."
Bodily attempted to run from officers after he arrived at the house where he believed he was going to have sex with one of the 13-year-olds and then "continued to resist officers" when he was arrested, the charges state. When interviewed by police about what happened, he said he "did something stupid and I shouldn't have come," according to the charges.
Gerstner exchanged 14 text messages with the undercover officers in 21 minutes and arrived at the house where he thought he was going to meet the 13-year-old girl, the charges state.6 comments on this story
A seventh man, Jason Everette Livermore, 30, was charged last week in 5th District Court with two counts of criminal solicitation, a first-degree felony, and enticing a minor, a second-degree felony. Livermore, a U.S. Army recruiter in Cedar City, responded to one of the fake ads and arranged to have sex with who he thought was a 39-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter, the charges state.
The agencies participating in the sting include Parowan police, the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Iron County Attorney’s Office, Iron/Garfield/Beaver Narcotics Task Force, Homeland Security Investigation and the Utah Highway Patrol.