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Sex offender accused of trolling Web for trysts with kids

NEW PORT RICHEY — Nine years after he got caught trying to solicit sex online from a 15-year-old boy, authorities say, Richard John Hannon was at it again.

Using the screen name "RichFL," the 66-year-old computer consultant sent a private chat message in April to "momof2fl," according to a Pasco search warrant. Records show "momof2fl" was logged into two chat rooms — "pedomoms" and "Kids'R'Us" — where adults troll for trysts with children.

"hi hon how are you?" Hannon typed. "florida and single here."

Hannon thought he was speaking to the mother of a 12-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl who was interested in offering her kids up for sex, the warrant said.

But "momof2fl" was really Chief Charles McMullen of the state's Child Predator CyberCrime Unit.

For two more months, the warrant says, Hannon told McMullen he wanted to have sex with the children.

He tried to arrange a meeting, but it never happened. On Aug. 1, state and local authorities arrested Hannon, a registered sex offender, at his home at 5110 Sandpiper Road in New Port Richey.

He was charged with using a computer to solicit or seduce a child. He has pleaded not guilty.

Hannon pleaded no contest to a similar charge in 1999, but received no jail time then. Authorities hope things will go differently this time.

"The courts (then) were not really familiar with how serious the problem was," said Maureen Horkan, the director of the CyberCrime Unit. "The same thing that happens now is the exact same thing that happened 10 years ago."

• • •

On Dec. 10, 1999, an undercover Pasco detective started to receive messages from a man with the screen names "Bigdaddy" and "Bigdaddy1," according to a sheriff's report.

The detective was posing online as a 15-year-old boy. The man told the detective to call him "Daddy," the report says, and that he could teach him about "man boy sex." The man wanted the boy to have sex with an 11-year-old girl who lived next door while he watched, the report says.

He then sent the detective a phone number and told him to call. Four days later, a sheriff's deputy posing as the boy spoke to the man, who said they should meet.

On Dec. 27, 1999, deputies arrested Hannon. He pleaded no contest in April 2000 to one count of computer solicitation of a minor. He served six months of community control — a form of house arrest — followed by two and a half years of probation, and was required to register as a sex offender.

Court records show Hannon never violated probation, the terms of which included not using the Internet. But when his probation ended a few years ago, he was free to go back online.

• • •

When the chatting began this year, the detective posing as "momof2fl" claimed to have two children.

"RichFL" replied, "oh excellent."

The search warrant for Hannon's hard drives and computers details the ensuing messages, which were exchanged from April to the end of June.

"RichFL" wrote that the boy "needs a daddy to teach him man sex" and that it would "be fun to teach them together." When the detective later posed online as the boy, the warrant said, Hannon wrote, "if i was your dad we coudl look at porn together."

He added, "tell mom to marry me."

Hannon also used profanity and wrote graphic descriptions of sex acts, the warrant says.

Hannon sent his e-mail address and phone number to the undercover detective, as well a link to a street map of his home, the warrant says. Detectives also tracked his IP address, or the unique numbers identifying his computer, to his home.

• • •

Despite the time between arrests, authorities say it's likely Hannon had used an Internet chat room to talk to children well before he ran into the undercover detective.

"The likelihood of them getting caught is very slim," said Horkan, the CyberCrime Unit director. "It is not that foreign to him. He's having that conversation with more than just our random undercover officer."

The unit, which in July created a new Tampa task force, has arrested 75 people statewide since its inception in 2005. Most had never been charged with a sex crime before, Horkan said.

Hannon remains at the Land O'Lakes jail on a charge of using a computer to seduce or solicit a child. He is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

His relatives could not be reached for comment.

A public defender has been appointed to represent Hannon, according to court records. In the meantime, investigators continue to search computers seized from his home to build their case.

"If I can help it," Horkan said, "they don't get six months" of house arrest.

Nomaan Merchant can be reached at nmerchant@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Sex offender accused of trolling Web for trysts with kids 08/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 9:46am]

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