A 25-year-old San Diego was sentenced to 135 months in custody and 10 years of supervised release Thursday after he pleaded guilty to attempting to entice a minor into sexual relations.
Miguel Cervantes, who was 24 at the time of his arrest in March, attempted to meet up with an 11-year-old child at a restaurant near her home and middle school for sex, according to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.
Cervantes first contacted the minor through an anonymous mobile application called “Candid” on March 16, according to court documents. The girl believed Cervantes to be an 18-year-old.
Within days, he and the child began engaging in sexual conversations, including the exchange of sexually explicit photos, according to the U.S. Attorney Office.
Cervantes and the girl exchanged messages through the app for up to two weeks, according to his indictment.
The victim’s mother eventually found her daughter’s iPad with their recorded conversations and contacted police.
Police continued conversations with Cervantes undercover and set up a meeting at a McDonald’s restaurant, which led to his arrest.
After his arrest, Cervantes told investigators he had known the victim was a minor and would have sexually exploited her if possible, according to court documents.
Cervantes’ roommate at the time said he was “definitely surprised” during an interview with NBC 7.
“This case demonstrates law enforcement’s unwavering commitment to protecting children and the importance of parents closely monitoring their children’s internet usage,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson.
Robinson warns parents that predators often use the internet as a tool to exploit vulnerable children.
The victim’s mother said Cervantes “stole her daughter’s innocence” through his inappropriate and illegal communication.
In addition to his sentence, Cervantes will be required to register as a sex offender, will not be allowed to initiate contact with minors, avoid locations frequented by minors, and have all online activity monitored, according to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.