PROVIDENCE – A Pawtucket man was arrested today on charges he allegedly traveled to Canada to engage in illicit sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl he enticed online during a series of exchanges of messages and pornographic images.
Herbert J. Rodas, 22, was arrested by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents and members of the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force on a federal criminal complaint charging him with transferring obscene material to a minor, enticement of a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity, and travelling in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to engage on illicit sexual activity.
According to court documents, in June 2019, the Winnipeg Police Service contacted the ICAC Task Force and HSI in Providence to report the sexual assault of a 13-year-old female. According to information developed by Winnipeg Police, Rodas allegedly traveled from the United States to Canada to engage in sexual activity with the minor victim after more than two months of online communications between the two.
According to court documents, it is alleged that Rodas and the victim met online and began communicating with one another in January 2019 using several social media applications. Within 10-15 minutes of the initial communication, the talk turned sexual and, after repeated requests by Rodas, the victim performed a sex act.
It is alleged that as the communications continued, at Rodas’ request, on multiple occasions the victim sent Rodas images of herself in various stages of undress, to include fully nude photos. Rodas sent the victim several sexually explicit and graphic images of himself. Some of the messages sent by Rodas using Snapchat contained user’s information, to include Rodas’ home address.
It is alleged in court documents that on April 25, Rodas flew to Canada and rented a hotel room in his name, for which he paid cash. Over the next three days, Rodas met with the victim on several occasions and engaged in illicit sexual activity with her. The victim provided physical evidence to the Winnipeg Police she said was connected to the first sexual encounter.
Rodas was arrested today by HSI agents and members of the ICAC Task Force during a court-authorized search of his Pawtucket residence, at which time law enforcement seized, among other items, Rodas’ passport, an airline boarding pass from Toronto to Boston for Rodas’ return trip from Canada, a Super 8 Motel receipt, and several electronic devices.
United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, and Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni announce the arrest and filing of a criminal complaint in this matter.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Rodas was released to home confinement with electronic monitoring and ordered to have no contact with the victim.
Transferring obscene material to a minor is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and a term of 5 years supervised release. Enticement of a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 10 years – to life, lifetime supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and a court-imposed special assessment of $5,000. Travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment, lifetime supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and a court-imposed special assessment of $5,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams.