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Posted August 10, 2012 | comments 6 Comments

Indictments issued in cell phone sex messaging case

By Joe Beck --jbeck@nvdaily.com

A Warren County grand jury indicted a Purcellville man Monday on charges of exposing his genitals to a child under 14 years old, using a communications system to procure a minor for sexual activity and attempting carnal knowledge with a teen-ager between 13- and 15-years-old.

The defendant, Michael Steven Courtemanche, 48, was arrested in November after an investigation during which authorities say the victim's mother and an investigator from the Warren County Sheriff's Office impersonated the victim through text messaging with Courtemanche.

The criminal complaint against Courtemanche states that he sent a cell phone picture of his penis to the cell phone of the 14-year-old girl.

The complaint states: "Courtemanche (was) trying to set up a meeting with her after her parents (went) to bed."

The complaint states that Courtemanche didn't know the victim's address but had Googled for directions to her home.

His bail was set at $5,000 secured bond. Court records show he is living with a family member in Front Royal, although he was a Purcellville resident at the time of the alleged offense.

A search warrant filed in circuit court late last year provides a detailed description of how Sheriff's Office investigators worked with the victim's mother to draw Courtemanche to the street where the girl lives and then arrested him.

The search warrant affidavit states the investigation began with the girl's mother telling Sheriff's Office investigators that she had discovered sexually suggestive texts on her daughter's cell phone from a man calling himself "Mike C."

The girl's mother impersonated her daughter in an exchange of cell phone messages over several hours with the man before turning in the cell phone to Sheriff's Office investigators, according to the affidavit.

Laura Nelson-Haas, a Sheriff's Office investigator, then began impersonating the girl in text messages with the suspect, the affidavit states. One of the messages from the suspect included a sexually explicit photo, according to the affidavit.

A few days later, Haas, still impersonating the girl, scheduled a meeting with the man identified in court records as "Mike." The documents show they were to meet in the driveway of the girl's residence. Law enforcement officials met and arrested him at the designated place and time of the meeting on Nov. 21, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Sheriff's Office investigator Allen Smoot used photos, cell phone information and motor vehicle registration information to identify Courtemanche as the suspect, according to the affidavit.

The case was initiated in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court before being transferred to circuit court.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan C. Layton has cited unusual circumstances such as serious illness and a family emergency involving key prosecution witnesses as reasons for why the case has been delayed since Courtemanche's arrest.

6 Comments | Leave a comment

    Interesting. Not that we don't have enough troubles of our own in this county with these types of people.. they have to come here from 'other' counties too?? I think we have no idea what our law enforcement has to deal with on a daily basis .. keep up the good work. God Bless ....... please put this man where he belongs.

    Everyday, everyday it's the same news about some creep going after yet another child. Even though the risk of being caught is fairly high, they can't resist, so I guess that's part of their thrill.

    Getting caught isn't too big of a concern obviously; public humiliation won't do it nor lack of employment "opportunities", and a little jail time shouldn't be too bad: then back on the streets. Oh just leave a forwarding address - please.

    How about "ending" their sick quest once and for all. Put them out of action, and stop wasting taxpayer's money: there must be all kinds of jobs for a good used eunuch.

    How did he get her cell number?

    A few years ago I decided I wanted to start dating after not dating at all for 12 years. So when I met a man who asked me out, I would 'check him out' on several internet sources with the sexual predictors registry http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/zipSearch.html being one of them. In doing so I became aware of a two-time offender working within a 1/4 mile radius of an area frequented by young children. I relayed my concerns to the 'appropriate' people and was told that all guidelines were being met.

    How did they meet each other? Facebook? Why the h*ll was he let out? He should've been kept in JAIL.

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