A Wauwatosa man accused of soliciting sex with a minor over the Internet expressed several times that he thought the "girl" he was chatting with might in fact be a police officer.
He was right, but in the end, police say, he went the final step and arranged a meeting that turned into an arrest.
David W. Gebhardt, 46, was charged Monday in Waukesha County Circuit Court with one count of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Oct. 12, a Waukesha police officer found an ad posted on Craigslist by Gebhardt looking for a young girl who wanted "experience." The officer created a persona of a 15-year-old girl, then contacted Gebhardt via email.
The two began to chat online and exchanged pictures, the complaint said. The officer told Gebhardt he wanted to learn "sex and stuff," but Gebhardt initially responded that wouldn't be right because "she" was too young.
However, he continued the communication, and during one of their chats, Gebhardt wrote that he had seen things about how police officers will pose as underage girls and respond to ads, and he suspected this was the case.
The two then stopped chatting, but Gebhardt quickly re-engaged the officer and apologized, saying this time that the girl he wanted to meet needed to be 18. Yet three minutes later, he messaged the officer again asking if they could go out for pizza and talk, because there was nothing wrong with that. He also said didn't want to put anything more detailed in writing, the complaint said.
Later conversations took place in which the officer told Gebhardt "she" didn't want to meet up with him because he was weird. He replied that he didn't trust her because he thought she was probably a cop.
When the officer asked why he kept messaging, Gebahrdt said he was hoping she wasn't a cop and then asked for another picture. Gebhardt told the posing officer "she" was "so sexy," and the conversations then turned sexual in nature.
On Oct. 31, they again discussed meeting up, and Gebhardt, who is married, explained his concerns about getting caught because someone would need to provide for his family. The officer said Gebhardt was wasting "her" time and terminated the chat, but minutes later Gebhardt was back asking to arrange a meeting.
They finally agreed to meet Friday at a Waukesha restaurant. An officer doing surveillance of the parking lot saw Gebhardt drive around the building several times, then park next to the investigating officer's car, then back out of the parking stall and drive off.
When he was pulled over, Gebhardt rolled down his window and immediately said he had come there to "teach" the girl. Gebhardt admitted to the entire incident, the complaint said, and also wrote a letter to the girl's mother asking for forgiveness.
Gebhardt is currently free on a $10,000 signature bond and $2,500 cash bond while awaiting trial.