GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – A 34-year-old California man accused of enticing a then-12-year-old western Michigan girl over the Internet and taking her to Missouri has been sentenced to 17 years in federal prison.
Joseph Arpin appeared Wednesday in Grand Rapids federal court, three months after pleading guilty to online enticement. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped charges of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor.
Police say the girl initially met Arpin online in July 2013, communicating through social media websites such as Facebook. Arpin told police he assumed a false identity to entice the girl, pretending to be a 10-year-old boy named “Jason.” At some point, their conversations apparently turned sexual in nature, with the girl sending Arpin nude photos.
“Jason” eventually introduced the girl to Aprin as his brother, investigators said. After a while, Arpin told the girl that “Jason” had moved away and he continued the online conversations.
Arpin told investigators he moved across the country from San Jacinto, Calif. to Hamilton, Mich., about 25 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, to start a sexual relationship with the girl, even though he knew she was under 18.
Investigators believe Arpin showed up in Michigan about two weeks before the girl disappeared. Her mother told police the girl left their home late at night, climbing out a bedroom window to take off with Arpin. She told WZZM her daughter left a letter before she disappeared.
“Mom you don’t understand anything, give him a chance — meet him,” the letter read.
A day later, authorities found the girl with Arpin at a convenience store in Crestwood, Missouri. Prosecutors say Arpin had multiple sexual encounters with the girl before he was arrested.
Defense Attorney Chris Gibbons said Arpin is remorseful and admits he “crossed social, moral, and legal boundaries.” He described his client as a “confused individual” who believed he was offering help to the girl, Mlive.com reported.
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