Police: Man arrested in underage sex sting
BENNINGTON — Police arrested a local man who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl at the Bennington Recreation Center on Monday as part of a sting operation.
Jonathan D. Tobin, 25, of Bennington, was cited for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, two counts of attempting to lure a child, attempted sexual assault of a child and resisting arrest.
According to a press release sent by Detective Robert Zink, a Vermont State Police trooper assigned to the Bennington County Special Investigation Unit, Tobin will be charged as a habitual offender, a sentencing enhancement which can be filed against a defendant who has previously been convicted of three or more felonies. A person convicted as a habitual offender can be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted.
Zink said police with the special investigations unit had been looking into accusations against Tobin since early June.
A 15-year-old girl had reported to police that Tobin had attempted to lure her into a sexual encounter using a popular social networking site on the Internet.
Police said the girl agreed to go for a walk with Tobin although the date was not specified. Police believe Tobin performed sexual acts on the girl.
Text messages recovered from the girl’s phone supported the girl’s statements to police, Zink said.
A request was made to officers from the Bennington Police Department and troopers with the Vermont State Police that Tobin be located and arrested on July 2.
Zink said a Bennington police officer found Tobin on Main Street in Bennington on July 3, around 7:30 a.m., but Tobin fled on foot while the officer was attempting to identify him and take him into custody.
Police were unable to find Tobin again on July 3.
Zink said police believed Tobin might attempt to flee the area and were concerned about his prior criminal record.
Using a Web page, Zink contacted Tobin while claiming to be a 14-year-old girl.
According to Zink, Tobin sent sexually explicit messages and pictures to the Web page, and propositioned the girl to have sex with him.
A meeting was arranged for 10 a.m. on Monday at the Bennington Recreation Center. Zink said Tobin agreed and police were able to arrest Tobin, without further incident, when he appeared at the recreation center.
Zink said Tobin was being held without bail at the Rutland jail on Monday evening.
In August 2009, Tobin, who was listed as homeless at the time, was arraigned on felony charges of burglary and false personation. Police said at the time he had stolen a truck and burglarized scrap metal from a Pownal business.
Police said in 2009 that Tobin had admitted to breaking into the business because he was homeless and needed a place to sleep and told them he stole a truck, which he later crashed, so he could go “joyriding.”