Warrenton Man Charged With Child Solicitation After Internet Sting

A 35-year-old Warrenton man was free on bond after being indicted last week on charges that he solicited sex on the Internet from someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

Jerry E. Griffith, of the 5000 block of Dogwood Court, was arrested as part of a sting run by the U.S. Postal Service and local investigators. He turned himself in to authorities Nov. 23 and was released on a $10,000 bond after a Fauquier County grand jury indicted him on two felony charges stemming from the sting.

Griffith is charged with soliciting sexually explicit materials and soliciting sex from a minor.

According to an affidavit filed with a search warrant executed in March, Griffith came into contact with a Colorado investigator posing as a 13-year-old girl in an Internet chat room. Throughout their electronic conversations, according to the affidavit, Griffith sought naked pictures of the fictitious girl, as well as soiled underwear.

The postal inspector had pornography sent to Griffith, a truck driver for a Manassas-based food processing plant, as well as girls underwear, according to the affidavit.

Dickson Young, Griffith's lawyer, said the fact that there was no real minor involved damages the prosecution's case.

"I'm not sure that the facts that they have alleged in this affidavit rise to the level of proving a violation of the statutes," Young said. "It was impossible for him to be committing a violation of any kind because the person on the other end of the conversation wasn't who he represented himself to be."

Young said that Griffith had no previous criminal history and was a newlywed whose wife recently gave birth. "This is certainly not characteristic of people associated with [child pornography]. He's not a trafficker in any of this stuff," Young said.

The return filed for the search warrant showed that investigators seized Griffith's computer hard drive, several floppy disks and some pornography. Griffith's next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4.

18-Year-Old Indicted in Rape of 11-Year-Old

An 18-year-old Herndon man was indicted last week on charges of raping an 11-year-old girl in August at a party in Fauquier County.

William F. Coster, of the 13100 block of Copper Brook Way, was released Nov. 24 on a $50,000 bond after being indicted by a county grand jury two days earlier. A lawyer representing Coster did not return phone calls.

Coster, a part-time student at Northern Virginia Community College and a full-time employee at a restaurant, according to court filings, is alleged to have raped the 11-year-old on Aug. 22. He could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kevin F. Casey said that Coster did not know the victim but met her at a party, where he later allegedly raped her. According to court filings, Coster has one previous criminal conviction, for reckless driving. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 4.

Death of Man, 39, Believed Accidental

The death of a 39-year-old Sumerduck man last week is being classified as accidental, authorities said.

James William Roberts was found by his young son Nov. 23 about 100 yards from his residence, in the 14600 block of Curtis Road in Sumerduck, said Fauquier County Sheriff's Capt. Fred Pfeiff. "Autopsy results are incomplete, but there looks to be some drug involvement of some sort. We're investigating it as an accidental death," Pfeiff said.