A California man is facing criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl who he met on Tinder.
KABC reported that Santa Ana police arrested Sean Rickard, 21, Wedneday night. Police claimed the tween girl posed as a 19-year-old on the dating app but revealed her true age to Rickard before they met in person.
“He said he didn’t care, and they met,” Corporal Anthony Bertagna alleged.
Rickard is accused of meeting with the girl Monday and sexually assaulting her in a Santa Ana parking lot.
Police said the girl and Rickard corresponded through Snapchat and Tinder for nearly eight months before she disclosed she was 12. Citing detectives, KTLA reported that Rickard was aware of her age when he sent the girl a video of himself masturbating.
Authorities reportedly got involved when the victim’s classmate learned that Rickard was arranging to pick her up from school for a second meeting. Officers ultimately used the girl’s phone and posed as her to schedule a meeting that resulted in Rickard’s arrest, according to KABC.
In addition to explicit videos and pictures, police said Rickard wrote in code to prevent the girl’s parents from finding out about the illicit relationship.
“Do you have homework tonight? She had a specific response – not going to say what it was – so he knew that he was actually talking to the child,” Bertagna said to the outlet, describing how the pair would communicate through text messages.
Santa Ana police said in a statement that Rickard admitted to knowing the victim was 12 when he picked her up to perform sex acts. He allegedly also confessed to intending to meet the girl a second time for sexual purposes.
KTLA reported that authorities fear Rickard had other victims.
“The Santa Ana Police Department would like to remind parents to closely monitor their child’s social media activity for any inappropriate content,” the statement read.
The 21-year-old was booked into jail on suspicion of child abuse. His bail was set at $100,000.
[Featured image: Sean Rickard/Santa Ana Police Department]