Seattle detectives posing as teen cheerleader in online prostitution ruse

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

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SEATTLE - The Seattle Police Department is apparently using the promise of sex with a 15-year-old cheerleader to make multiple arrests for attempted commercial sex abuse of a minor.

On Thursday, KIRO 7 reported Kentridge High School teacher Brent Conley answered the ad and was arrested earlier this month. Conley has since been charged with the crime. 

Now, reporter Amy Clancy has learned the same online promise has resulted in the arrests of multiple men.

It starts with an online ad in Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" section: a teenage girl, who later claims to be a 15-year-old cheerleader, offers sex for money. The ad is really posted by a Seattle police detective.

According to a Seattle police report, 53-year old Craig Charles Brown of Bremerton answered the ad and arranged to meet the fake 15-year-old Monday at a McDonald's on Fourth Avenue South in Seattle. Brown was arrested instead.

On Wednesday, Brown appeared before King County Judge Anne Harper, who set his bail at $25,000. Deputy King County Prosecutor Allison Bannerman had asked that Brown's bail be set at $75,000 instead, arguing, "The defendant took active steps, including driving to the location with the agreed-upon amount of cash to engage in sex with who he believed was a 15-year-old girl. This causes the state great concern."

Diane Brown, the suspect's wife of 26 years said in court that her husband has "always been an upstanding citizen. He's been employed for 32 years. He's very highly regarded at work."

KIRO 7 has since learned that Brown is a naval architect in Bremerton.

According to documents obtained by KIRO 7, the same "15-year-old cheerleader" ad resulted in the arrest of 36-year-old David Liebenberg of Tacoma. He was picked up by Seattle police on Monday in Tukwila. And early Wednesday morning, another man was arrested at the same McDonald's where Conley and Brown were arrested. 

Scanner traffic indicated he was also to meet a 15-year-old girl, but the Seattle Police Department has not confirmed that. That man will have a bail hearing Thursday.

Meanwhile, Brown's defense attorney Charles Swaby told the court Wednesday he represents a number of the men recently arrested.

"This is all I do, your honor, now. This is, virtually all my cases are these. I think it's more complicated than even Detective Holand puts in his reports," he said.

Detective Tye Holand's name is on all the police reports KIRO 7 has obtained.

Outside court, Swaby told Clancy that he represents at least eight men who have been arrested after answering the same ad. But he said at least 20 men in all have been arrested.

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