Police use ‘Whisper’ app in child sex sting
PROVO – A Spanish Fork man was arrested Thursday night after officers reportedly found he was using a mobile app to entice underage girls to have sex with him.
A detective with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office used the popular app “Whisper” in October to assume the identity of a 13-year-old girl. While using the app, the officer reportedly found a public posting of a man, Russell Lake, asking for “a female companion.”
The officer made contact with Lake using the fake 13-year-old identity and asked if he would be comfortable communicating through another messaging service. During their communications, Lake, 27, said he would buy the girl any clothing she wanted if they could have future sexual relations. Police reports state Lake dropped off the clothes at a park in Provo.
Communication continued between the two, during which time Lake reportedly explicitly described the sexual acts he wanted to commit with the 13-year-old girl. At one point in the communications, Lake acknowledged that if the 13-year-old wasn’t real and instead the person he was communicating with was a cop, he knew he would get into trouble.
But they arranged a time to meet in Provo, at the same park he’d dropped off the clothes in the past, with the idea Lake would take the 13-year-old back to his home in Spanish Fork to have sex with her.
After police arrived at the park, they arrested Lake. He reportedly told officers he was communicating with the false persona and wanted to commit various sexual acts with the persona.
Lake was booked into the Utah County Jail on suspicion of seducing a minor by Internet or text, a second-degree felony; attempted sodomy on a child, a second-degree felony; attempted object rape of a child, a second-degree felony; and attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.
Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said this is not an isolated incident, especially with the anonymity the app “Whisper” offers.
“It’s like a drug; when they get the anonymity of the ‘Whisper’ app, the lure to meet is much stronger than the fear of getting caught,” Cannon said. “The sad thing is there are 13-year-olds out there who are doing this.”