By Roxanna Jarvis
SACRAMENTO, CA – You’ve seen this before on TV shows such as To Catch a Predator with Chris Hanson from Dateline NBC—adult online predators, most often men, caught attempting to meet with a minor and take part in sexual acts.
Defendant Quy Nguyen found himself in a similar situation in July of last year. And found himself in jail.
And, last Friday, Nguyen found himself in Sacramento County Superior Court, charged with communicating with a minor with intent to commit lewd or lascivious acts, arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes, and a new count of attempting lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.
Nguyen was apprehended by the Sacramento Police Department after he attempted to meet with a minor—who actually was an adult decoy in an undercover sting operation—and he allegedly planned to receive sexual favors in return for giving the minor a ride.
On July 15, 2020, an ad was posted on Craigslist’s community rideshare section with the title “Need a Ride to Elk Grove Please” that had misspellings. Attached to the post were two pictures of a female. This woman was actually an adult decoy working with the Sacramento Police Department, attempting to look like a minor.
Special Agent Supervisor Jason Nichols was assigned to work an undercover sting operation in conjunction with the Sac PD to find online juvenile sexual predators. It was on the same day the ad was posted that a number belonging to Nguyen texted the number provided on the craigslist ad.
“It was an image of five $100 bills that were fanned out on a gear shift on the center console of what appeared to be a vehicle and there was a folded $1 bill in [a] cupholder,” explained SAS Nichols, who was pretending to be the decoy and received the text at 11:14 a.m.
SAS Nichols estimated there to be approximately 130 texts sent between him and Nguyen from July 15 to July 16.
From the texts on July 15, Nguyen told whom he believed to be the female poster that he was 35 years old. SAS Nichols replied by informing Nguyen that “she” was 13, texting “I’m about to turn 14.” Nichols told the court that Nguyen continued to have a conversation even after knowing the age of the supposed minor.
Eventually, the conversation took an inappropriate turn. “There was a lot of buildup, back and forth and ultimately it got to a conversation or a text message that indicated “head” (or oral copulation) [from the 13-year-old],” said SAS Nichols.
Nichols stated that Nguyen was the one who brought up the idea for exchanging money for sex acts and that there was continued conversation about the decoy receiving cash. Nichols claimed to have messaged Nguyen, “I was looking for a ride but you can pay me if you wanted to.”
In the cross-examination where Nguyen’s attorney, Jonathan Gonzales, questioned Nichols, the officer stated that he informed Nguyen of “what I was looking for in exchange for the ride and how I could repay him for being gracious enough, to pay him for the ride.”
Additionally, Nichols claimed that he sent the text, “I’ve had older boyfriends, but you’re pretty young.”
When asked by Gonzales why he said that to Nguyen, SAS Nichols replied, “To establish that there’s an innuendo of a favor [being] offered for the ride.”
Before those texts, Nichols agreed that Nguyen never made any sort of sexual suggestions.
Judge Ernest Sawtelle then asked Nichols, “In this conversation, wasn’t the first response from the defendant an image of money?” To that Nichols agreed.
After the sexual back and forth, Nguyen told the minor that he did not want to go forward with what was discussed. “He said he was scared,” Nichols explained.
The texts between the two ended approximately 10:30 p.m., but began again the next day on July 16 around 12:43 p.m.
Nguyen began the text chat again by asking if the decoy still needed a ride. Further into the conversation, the defendant started to ask the decoy about drugs.
“The defendant asked if I smoked dope or did pills. I said no, (that) White Claw, which is an [alcoholic-seltzer drink] was more of my preference. There was discussion of him picking some of those up and subsequently bringing those with him,” answered Nichols when asked by Deputy District Attorney Bruce Chang if any discussion occurred about what Nguyen was going to bring.
Nichols continued to say that he informed Nguyen twice in that text thread on the 16th that “she” was 13 years old and young, to which “the defendant continued to respond.”
Nguyen was alleged to have said “let’s be friends” after Nichols had re-established that “she” was 13. Nichols then responded, “fwb” or “friends-with-benefits.”
Nichols claimed that Nguyen reiterated the possibility of oral copulation and asked the decoy if she ate yet.
“There was confusion between whether he was going to give me the White Claw or bring the White Claw and [receive oral copulation] or not. But ultimately [oral copulation] was discussed again,” said Nichols, recounting the text messages.
The two agreed to meet at an apartment located in Sacramento County. Nguyen was spotted in the parking lot of the apartment, but drove past the female decoy standing outside the apartment without stopping and left.
Unmarked surveillance units in the area followed Nguyen to an intersection and eventually stopped Nguyen and took him into custody.
While in custody, SAS Nichols and Nguyen spoke in person with one another and Nguyen admitted that he spoke with the decoy knowing that she was 13 years old. Regarding the use of “head” in the texts, Nguyen told SAS Nichols that “he was just playing around.”
Nichols then reminded him of the text conversation, “I re-read him the text strings in relation to those specific acts saying that you agree there were text messages about [oral copulation] in exchange for a ride and/or cash, thus soliciting from a minor. And he agreed and said yes.
“He said during the interview that he was there to have a ‘blow job,’” SAS Nichols said.
Roxanna Jarvis is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley, currently majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is from Sacramento, California.
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