Zachary Rose, 26, of Milton, pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday after police said he attempted to lure a police officer undercover as a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.
Undercover with the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children unit, the officer posted a classified ad online as part of a sting that ended in nine total arrests, the Burlington Free Press reports.
“Looking to make some friends,” the ad read. “House to myself all nite.”
The poster’s age was listed as 18.
Rose responded to the ad saying he was “down for whatever” the person wanted, an affidavit from Burlington police Officer Thomas Chenette shows. In a message to Rose, the officer claimed to instead be 14 years old.
“I’m not a dirt bag but I try to be a gentleman so it’s up to you if you wanna meet up or not,” Rose wrote.
Pressed further, Rose told the officer he “would love to have sex,” the affidavit says. They agreed to meet at a predetermined location in Chittenden County, where Rose was eventually arrested, Chenette wrote.
In a recorded interview, police said Rose admitted to using online platforms to meet with women on a weekly basis but denied seeking underage girls, Chenette wrote.
According to the affidavit, Rose confirmed he told the officer posing as a 14-year-old girl he wanted to have sex. However, once meeting her, Rose said he planned to tell her she should not “be doing this stuff.”
But upon Rose’s arrest, police said they found two condoms in the man’s pocket. When police asked what he planned to do with them, he said they just happened to be in the pair of pants he threw on because he recently had sex, Chenette wrote.
Rose denied intent to have sex with a minor, Chenette added.
Rose has previous convictions for lewd and lascivious conduct, violating conditions of release and failing to appear in court, court records show.
After arraignment on September 12, a judge ordered Rose held at Northwest State Correctional Facility with bail set at $10,000.
His conditions of release prohibit contacting minors under age 16 and internet access, including computers, cell and smartphones, gaming consoles and handheld gaming devices.
If convicted, Rose faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. A status conference is scheduled for October 12.