ROCKINGHAM — A Richmond County man is facing charges of soliciting underage girls online after being confronted by YouTubers.
Richmond County Jail records show that 50-year-old William Joseph Norton Jr. is charged with two counts each of soliciting by computer, disseminating obscene material to a minor and taking indecent liberties with a child.
Records show he was booked on June 25 and is being held on a $200,000 secured bond.
The YouTube channel WEB — which stands for “Watch Every Browser,” according to an explanation in another video — posted a video June 26 of an interview with Norton, discussing three months of conversations with who he allegedly thought were two 13-year-old girls.
The About section of the YouTube profile reads, in part: “Catching online preds one perv at a time and exposing them for the world to see.”
“I think you know why we’re here,” the man behind the camera says after walking up to Norton’s home and identifying Norton. “I’m not here to hurt you, I’m recording for your safety and mine.”
Norton acknowledges that he knew the girls were in California and says one messaged him on Facebook and said she wanted to meet.
However, according to the video, the first message was sent in April by Norton.
He says he was “just trying to be nice.”
“She did tell you she was 13, so what made you want to continue talking?” the interviewer asks.
The interviewer later asks Norton: “Did you say anything in these conversations that might be deemed inappropriate?”
“Ah, yeah, but I didn’t mean nuttin’ by it, ya know,” Norton replies, adding that he’s “mentally challenged.”
The interviewer earlier on said that the girls — who were actually decoy accounts — were his nieces and that he saw on their phones where they were messaging with him.
Norton offers numerous times during the conversation to block them both on Facebook.
As the interviewer continues, it appears that Norton sent at least one of the girls a photo of his penis and said he wanted to kiss her between her legs and asked what color panties she wore.
“I just got carried away,” Norton says.
There appear to be multiple times where Norton would send numerous messages and would receive no reply.
Later on, the interviewer reads messages allegedly from Norton saying that he wished she was older and that he wanted to marry her.
“What were you planning on doing with the girls, you know, if they really showed up,” the interviewer asks.
“Nothin’,” Norton replies, adding that he just wanted to hang out for maybe an hour.
About 34 minutes into the video, deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office arrive at Norton’s home.
The interviewer tells deputies what they’re doing is much like the television show “To Catch a Predator,” which ran from 2004-2007 on NBC.
In addition to the messages, the interviewer tells the deputy they have recorded phone calls. He also explains to the deputy that they never make first contact.
The interviewer tells the deputy that Norton had arranged to meet the “girls” at a nearby gas station.
Around 42 minutes in, deputies place Norton under arrest.
According to the videos on the channel, 75 suspected sexual predators have been caught due to their efforts.
The video of Norton’s encounter and arrest had received more than 1,700 views as of 5:30 p.m Monday.
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.