NJ man, 72, arrested at park waiting to meet child for sex, cops say
GARFIELD — A 72-year-old man was arrested Monday in a park where he had arranged to meet a child under the age of 13 for sexual activity, according to Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella.
The arrest of the married and retired man stood out from other recent arrests involving predators seeking to sexually exploit children because police said this suspect had been
Angel Bernard, of Garfield, had been in contact with the child via text message and a sexually explicit phone conversation, police said.
After being contacted by Garfield police on Thursday, an investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Cyber Crimes Unit determined Bernard had tried to arrange a meeting with the juvenile several times.
The prosecutor did not reveal specifically how Bernard initially made contact with the victim.
Bernard was arrested on Monday at a park. He was charged with second-degree attempted aggravated sexual assault, second-degree attempted sexual assault, second-degree luring and third-degree attempted child endangerment.
John Pizzuro, the commander of the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said the pandemic has led to an increasing number of cyber tips about online predators stalking kids.
Pizzuro said predators will go to gaming sites and apps to meet children and teens, frequently posing as other children, and then steer them to other online platforms to try and create relationships with them.
He said instead of just assuming their children are playing with peers their own age on gaming sites, parents need to take the time to get involved.
Previous reporting by David Matthau was used in this report.