30 days in jail for Internet sex chats with 'teen'

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2011 - 9:07 PM

Laurence E. Nelson pleaded guilty to felony solicitation. He must register as a predatory offender for 10 years.

Laurence E. Nelson was contrite Tuesday as Ramsey County District Judge Gail Chang Bohr sentenced him to 30 days in jail for having sexually explicit Internet chats with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

"I really screwed up," he told the judge. "I got sucked into some things I never should have, and I hurt a lot of people."

Nelson, 44, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty in February to one felony count of solicitation of a child for sexual conduct via the Internet. Bohr gave him a stay-of-imposition sentence, which means the charge could be reduced to a misdemeanor if he successfully completes his three-year probation.

After Nelson was charged in December, he lost his jobs as a housing case specialist for Dakota County and a part-time outreach worker for the Coon Rapids YMCA.

According to the charges, Nelson engaged in several explicit instant-message conversations with "Stephie." That person actually was an undercover deputy from New York who was working with the New York Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The deputy contacted St. Paul police for help with the investigation after learning that Nelson, who used the screen name "Truancyguy," lived there.

Nelson's attorney, John Leunig, told the judge Tuesday that Nelson has "acknowledged his guilt and taken responsibility." He has entered into treatment, attends group sessions once a week and private counseling twice a month.

In addition to the jail time and probation, Bohr ordered Nelson to register as a predatory offender for 10 years, complete sex-offender treatment, not own or view any sexually explicit material and subscribe to an Internet monitoring service that will let authorities monitor his computer use at home.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992

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