A 27-year-old Gloucester County man has been accused of trying to arrange a sexual encounter with someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.

Todd Merinuk, of West Deptford, was arrested on March 16 after emerging to meet a rideshare vehicle that he had booked for the teen's Mercer County pickup, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri.

Merinuk has been charged with two counts of second-degree attempted sexual assault, three counts of third-degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of second-degree attempted luring.

West Deptford man accused of luring teen girl (Google Maps, Townsquare Media)
(Google Maps, Townsquare Media)

NJ man has explicit chats with ‘14-year old girl,’ actually police agent

Three weeks earlier, Merinuk had begun chatting with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old female.

The chat included multiple sexually explicit messages, a photo sent by Merinuk of an adult male penis, and statements by Merinuk that he wanted to meet in person to engage in various sexual acts.

The agent was working with detectives from the prosecutor’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, investigating those trying to exploit children via an “anonymous social media platform,” Onofri said.

Merinuk was taken into custody by members of both the Mercer County and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office as well as federal agents.

The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Merinuk pending trial.

Anyone with information about possible online exploitation or sexual abuse of children has been urged to contact the office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit at 609-989-6568 or the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force tip line at 888-648-6007.

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