Stafford police have re-arrested a fugitive wanted for sexually assaulting an underage girl after contacting her via a social media app.
Authorities found the suspect, Charles E. Torrence, 50, in a Philadelphia homeless shelter on Saturday, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s office.
Torrence was indicted on several charges, including sexual assault, two counts of luring or enticing a child and four counts of child endangerment.
Stafford police initially arrested Torrence in June 2019 for sexually assaulting the girl he met on messaging app Kik, according to officials who said he had taken her to his home in Marlton, N.J.
Torrence was released pending the outcome of the charges. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office labeled him a fugitive after he failed to appear in court.
On Saturday, Evesham Township police received a tip that Torrence was staying in a Philadelphia-area homeless shelter. Authorities staked out several shelters and eventually found him entering one on Spruce Street.
He was turned over to Philadelphia police to begin the extradition process back to New Jersey.
Torrence was indicted for the following:
- sexual assault (second-degree)
- two counts of luring or enticing a child (second-degree)
- four counts of endangering the welfare of a child (third-degree)
- two counts of criminal attempt to endanger the welfare of a child (third-degree)
- promoting prostitution (third-degree)
Torrence and the victim met through Kik, communicating through texting and FaceTime about one week before he traveled to her home. He took her back to his home for sex, authorities said.
Last April, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer warned parents about Kik, a free, anonymous messaging app. The internet app is popular with children and teens, allowing users to share instant messages, photos and videos.
“Kik has a dubious reputation as one of leading apps used by child predators to ‘groom’ underage users,” Billhimer said at the time. “Grooming is the process employed by child predators to befriend under-age children and gradually convince them, through the app, to let their guard down and to eventually engage in inappropriate dialogue and conduct. Grooming can ultimately lead to child predators attempting to arrange meetings with minors.”
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