After pleading guilty Jan. 30 to the electronic solicitation of a minor, Wesley Creel, 54, of Rivers Edge Drive in Potomac, Md., was recently given a suspended jail sentence and placed on probation.
Actually, Creel — who is married and has four daughters — pleaded guilty to using a communications system to facilitate certain offenses involving children, as a second or subsequent offense within 10 years.
This offense is punishable by as much as five years in prison, but Creel's defense attorney and the prosecutor made a plea agreement in this case, and the judge abided by it.
When Creel entered his plea in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Mark Sullivan told Judge Kathleen MacKay what the evidence against Creel would have been, had the case gone to trial.
He said that, between Feb. 24 and March 9, 2005, a particular detective was working online in an undercover capacity to catch child predators. Pretending to be a 15-year-old named Alexandria, he posted "her" profile on escorts.com.
"[The detective] was contacted by Creel, who called himself Wes," said Sullivan. "He asked 'her' if she'd pose for nude or lingerie photos for money. 'She' said yes, and then he sent her [these types of] photos."
They arranged to meet March 9, 2005, at 6 p.m., in the parking lot of a sandwich shop in the 13600 block of Lee Jackson Highway in Chantilly. But when Creel arrived, police arrested him. He later learned that the supposed teen was really a Fairfax County police detective with the Child Exploitation Unit.
He was indicted by the grand jury, Nov. 21, 2005 and, after several delays, he pleaded guilty in January of this year — nearly two years after his arrest.
His attorney, Rod Leffler, told MacKay then that, "Had this case gone to trial, the detective pretending to be a 15-year-old would have admitted that he deceived escorts.com by telling them he was a teenager. And the photo he sent them was actually a 27-year-old policewoman in a soccer uniform."
And although police contend that Creel fully intended to have a liaison with someone he believed was a teenage girl, Leffler said, "My client would admit that he did send these e-mails, thinking all along this person was an adult."
Creel returned to court April 6 for sentencing and, at that time, MacKay sentenced him to 12 months in jail, suspending all that time. She also placed him on one year's supervised probation.