Man Stung By Online Sex Sting

Posted: September 18, 2013

HARRISONBURG — A Rockingham County judge found a Harrisonburg man accused of trying to solicit what he thought was a teenage girl for sexual favors guilty Tuesday during a bench trial in Rockingham County Circuit Court.

Judge Bruce Albertson convicted Sean Passarelli, 33, of felony using a computer with the attempt to solicit a minor for sex.

Passarelli argued he couldn’t have been the one to engage in all conversations because, he said, part of the time he was out of town with no Internet access. He did, however, admit to some of the conversations.

Albertson, after hearing the case, told the defendant, “I don’t believe the alibi.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Olli Nylander told the judge the case against Passarelli began on Aug. 31, 2011, when Passarelli unknowingly contacted an undercover trooper with the Virginia State Police.

Special Agent Chad Morris, working with the Northern Virginia-Washington D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children task force, said he received an initial message from Passarelli.

During the next few days, Morris testified, Passarelli became more aggressive and suggested the “13-year-old girl” he thought he was talking to perform sex acts.

Investigators later traced the computer’s IP address to Passarelli’s home, and police arrested him there on Sept. 21, 2011.

During trial, Passarelli’s defense attorney, Tracy Evans, also said that his client was out of state during the time some of the conversations took place and couldn’t have used his home computer. The defense, however, provided no evidence, such as gas receipts, to show the defendant was out of town.

The defense suggested that someone else in the home might have used the Internet account to talk to the “girl.”

Passarelli, who faces up to 10 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3.

The judge also revoked Passarelli’s bond. He was taken into custody and is being held at Rockingham County Jail.

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or pdelea@dnronline.com


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