Man charged with child solicitation, human trafficking

Posted by: Amanda Browning  | Wednesday, June 22, 2016

GREENSBURG – A Greensburg man accused of tricking an 11-year-old girl into sending him nude photos and threatening to release those photos if she did not agree to “hook up” was arrested after the girl told her mother, who contacted local police.

Greensburg Police arrested Joshua David Bergen, 23, of the 1800 block of North Lincoln St., Wednesday. He was charged with human trafficking of a minor (Level 3 felony); child solicitation (Level 5 felony); two counts of obstruction of justice (Level 6 felony) and intimidation (Class A misdemeanor) Friday in Decatur Circuit Court, according to court documents.

The investigation began Monday when GPD officers received a complaint of a male attempting to solicit inappropriate material from an underage female. The victim, in an interview with the Children's Advocacy Center, stated that she had been followed by a person later identified as Bergen on Instagram using the screen name “KILLERCLOUD92.”

Bergen allegedly initiated conversation with the victim, saying she had followed him on Instagram and asked if she would like to be entered into a photo contest with a cash prize of $500. The police report filed by GPD Detective Stephen Barnes at the Decatur County courthouse states Bergen admitted that he “tricked” the victim into sending photos of herself.

According to court records, the victim sent a photograph of herself to Bergen at his request. According to the police report, Bergen then sent the victim photographs of other young girls in “various states of undress” along with the message that she was losing the contest. The victim sent images of herself in swimwear in response.

Bergen allegedly asked the victim for a nude photograph, to which she complied. The police report states that Bergen then told the victim that she had won money in the contest and asked how to get it to her.

The victim told police she didn’t want to tell Bergen where she lived. According to the police report, Bergen suggested leaving the money for her in an abandoned house in the area. The victim eventually disclosed the location of her home to Bergen.

Bergen allegedly then told the victim that he wanted to meet in person and that if she did not meet him, he would release the nude photos of her on Instagram. According to the victim’s statement in the police report, Bergen said he wanted to “hook up” with her, which she said she knew referred to having sex.

Bergen allegedly threatened to release the nude photos both when the victim refused to meet him to “hook up” as well as when he told her to delete their Instagram conversation. At this point, the victim told her mother about the conversation. The girl’s mother sent Bergen a message notifying him that she would be sharing the messages with the police. Bergen allegedly responded that the victim would be in more trouble than him if police were contacted. According to the police report, the victim said she deleted parts of the conversation, including the nude photos. The victim’s phone was turned over to police for analysis.

Detective Barnes obtained and executed a search warrant at Bergen’s home. During the search, two cell phones and multiple flash drives were located, as were two laptop computers and other items. Bergen was transported to the Decatur County Jail without incident. The electronic devices were turned over to the Indiana State Police for examination.

During the interview with Detective Barnes at the jail, Bergen allegedly said he owned an Instagram account under the name “KILLERCLOUD92,” which he deleted in an attempt to hide the conversation he had with the victim. Bergen also allegedly admitted that he had created another Instagram account, “supersaiyen_jujitsu92.”

While no active account was found by the Daily News on Instagram under either screen name, another account possibly belonging to Bergen was found under "saiyan_jujitsu92."

According to the police report, Bergen told police that he initially believed the victim to be 16 or 17 years old and was later told by the victim that she was 13. Her age is reportedly 11. Bergen allegedly admitted to tricking the victim into sending nude photos of herself and threatening to share the photos unless she met with him to have sex. Court records state that Bergen told Detective Barnes he deleted his Instagram account and created another after the victim’s mother said she was calling police, though he made no further attempt to contact the victim. According to Barnes’ report, Bergen said he attempted the same scam to obtain nude photos of another girl, though he was unsuccessful.

While examining Bergen’s phone, GPD detectives Barnes and Mike McNealy located a conversation in which Bergen sent the victim messages saying he would pay her to “have a hook up with her.” The conversation is as follows:

KILLERCLOUD92 – [sic] “Ill make a deal 500 for the full nude or $1000 to hook up for a while”

Victim – “I am 13 turning 14 that’s illegal and gross”

KILLERCLOUD92 – “Its only illegal if you get caught”

Bergen appeared for an initial hearing with Judge Bailey in the Decatur Circuit Court Friday, where a plea of not guilty was entered. Bergen was appointed Mark Jones as a defense attorney and a $250,000 commercial bond was set. Decatur County Prosecutor Nathan Harter said a jury trial has been set for September and a pretrial date will take place beforehand.

Harter said Bergen could potentially face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The level 3 felony carries a penalty of 3-16 years; level 5 felony 1-6 years; level 6 felonies six months to 2.5 years (Bergen is charged with two); and Class A misdemeanors carry penalties of up to one year. Each felony charge has a fine range of up to $10,000 and misdemeanors up to $5,000.

Harter said he was not able to discuss potential further charges related to data that may be discovered on the electronic devices because they are still part of an ongoing investigation.

GPD Chief Brendan Bridges said, “The Greensburg Police Department would again like to remind parents to monitor their children’s social media accounts to make sure they are not being put in harm’s way with who they are communicating with.”

Harter echoed that sentiment and encouraged parents to attend a cyber safety event with the Indiana State Police Crimes Against Children Tash Force at FaithPoints Church at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 6. FaithPoints Church is located at 814 W. Sheridan St. This event is free. Call 812-614-6107 or visitfaithpoints.org for more information.

“If parents would attend that and hear the training from the State Police, that would be a really good opportunity to get up to date information,” Harter said.

Bergen remained incarcerated at the Decatur County Jail as of press time Friday.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111x7004; amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com