Staten Island Man Caught In Child Sex Sting At Township Coffee Shop

Thomas McKernan. Photo: Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

A 31-year-old Staten Island man faces multiple charges after he was arrested May 10 when he thought he was meeting a 13-year-old girl at a township coffee shop for a rendezvous that would lead to sex.

Thomas McKernan was arrested at about 11:35 a.m. at the unnamed Cedar Grove Lane shop, following a month-long investigation that involved explicit online chats with the “girl,” who was actually an undercover police officer, according to a press release from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

McKernan was arrested without incident by members of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Unit and the Franklin Township Police Department Detective Bureau, according to the release.

According to the release, “during the chat conversations which were initiated by defendant McKernan, the undercover detective clearly identified herself as an underage girl and defendant McKernan engaged in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet for sex.”

McKernan was charged with 2nd Degree Luring, 2nd Degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 3rd Degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and 3rd Degree Attempt to Promote Obscene Materials and was lodged at the Somerset County Jail, Somerville, pending a detention hearing, according to the release.

“It is a priority of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to protect our children from online predators who are taking advantage of the Internet’s anonymity and the access it allows to our children,” Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said in the release. He said that authorities would target social media platforms and chat applications being used by child predators to sexually exploit and lure children for sex.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 231-7100 or via the STOPit app. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office is utilizing the STOPit app as a platform to allow concerned citizens to provide information about crimes occurring in Somerset County. This app is completely anonymous and users are able to “chat” in real time with law enforcement, as well as send images and videos about crime. The app also has a Get Help section that provides phone numbers and links to important resources available in Somerset County.  The STOPit app can be downloaded to your smartphone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: “SOMERSETNJ”. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or at www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE”. All anonymous Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.


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