Oklahoma sex offender was in Atlantic City to abuse girls, charges claim
A convicted sex offender from Oklahoma was arrested in Atlantic City, after allegedly coming to the state to sexually assault two young girls. Aaron Craiger, 33, thought he was meeting two men who had offered him two underage girls for sex, according to the charges. Instead, he had been talking with two undercover detectives from the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. He was arrested Wednesday, at an Atlantic City motel where he had stayed overnight after traveling by bus from Oklahoma. “The extraordinary lengths that Craiger went through to allegedly sexually assault two young girls should serve as a stark reminder to parents that although their children may be safe at home due to the coronavirus, online predators continue to seek out victims and are willing to travel across the country to commit these abhorrent crimes,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will never cease our pursuit of online predators and remain committed to working with our partners to protect New Jersey’s children.” Craiger planned to meet the men Wednesday, believing one man was bringing his 12-year-old daughter for sex, and other was bringing his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter, according to the charges. He allegedly had condoms with him, as well as a small amount of marijuana, which he had said that he wanted to smoke with the girls. “This arrest makes clear that even in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, predators who seek to victimize the most vulnerable members of our communities for their own sexual gratification will be caught and brought to justice,” said Brian Michael, special agent in charge, HSI Newark. In text exchanges with the undercover detectives, Craiger allegedly detailed the sexual acts he wanted to perform with the girls. He allegedly sent them 10 files of child pornography, and child pornography was found on his phone when he was arrested. Craiger allegedly planned to meet the men Wednesday. “With the number of children who are home from school and accessing the internet due to the pandemic, it’s critical that parents talk to their children about the dangers of social media and warn them that there are predators like Craiger lurking online who are willing to go to very great lengths to locate and reach victims,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “Had we not arrested Craiger, the allegations indicate he would likely have continued to seek underage girls to sexually exploit.” He is in the Atlantic County Justice Facility, pending a detention hearing Tuesday. He is charged with two counts each of attempted sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and attempted distribution of marijuana, along with one county each of distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography and possession of marijuana. A cell phone and external hard drive seized from Craiger will undergo forensic examinations to determine whether they contain evidence of any other criminal activity or information about potential victims.
Craiger is being held in the Atlantic County Jail pending a detention hearing scheduled for March 24.
Craiger was convicted of second-degree rape in 2006, when he was 19 for having sex with a 15-year-old girl, records show. In 2012, he was arrested while doing contract work at the Oklahoma State Fair, after he failed to property register as a sex offender and impersonated a police officer, according to court documents.
In addition to investigating cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, members of the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, and the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force routinely conduct undercover chat investigations on social media platforms leading to arrests of hands-on offenders and defendants attempting to lure children. They also conduct proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child pornography.
Anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – should contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.