A man from Cedar Springs is in federal custody in Ohio, after investigators say he was soliciticting sex with young girls.
Herman Kamphuis, 43, thought he was chatting online with a father who was offering his two young daughters for sex; in reality he was setting up a talking to an undercover detective.
On March 9, Kamphuis drove to Columbus, OH thinking he was going to have sex with an 11-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. When he got there, federal agents arrested him for attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
According to court documents, on February 2, the undercover detective signed into a “parenting” chat room through Yahoo Instant Messenger and was contacted by Kamphuis. The detective was posing as a father of two pre-teen girls; Kamphuis contacted him and asked about their physical attributes.
Details of the online conversations in the affidavit are pretty disturbing – most of which FOX 17 has chosen not to include in this story. When the investigator asked Kamphuis what he was looking for, Kamphuis said he wants to have sex with little girls and “make a 25 year fantasy come true.”
After over a month of sexually explicit online chats, Kamphuis agreed to the meet the federal agent in Columbus on March 9, thinking he was meeting a father and his two young daughters for sex. Investigators say Kamphuis promised to bring his computer with him so he could share child pornography images with the girls. Federal agents say they found that computer with 100’s of sexual images of children in his trunk.
United States Attorney Don Davis says cases like this are part of a national initiative called Project Safe Childhood, aiming to keep kids safe in the real world and online.
“The internet’s got absolutely wonderful thing about it,” he says, “but, one of the dark sides, is it reduces the world and it increases the ability to communicate with each other in inappropriate ways.”
Davis says not only do they see a lot of interstate traffic, but there’s a lot of international traffic too, and thanks to technology, digital images of child pornography have infinite longevity.
Since the project launched in 2006, the numbers of cases and defendants prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices has increased 40 percent, but Davis says parents still need to be aware of what kids are doing online.
“We’re so careful with kids: seatbelts and child seats, and children’s medication, and all these things to take care of kids at home,” Davis says. “Yet we plunk them down in front of a computer which is a window to the whole world, and as much as we don’t like it, there are nasty things in that world, and there’s nasty people.”
If convicted, Herman Kamphuis could face ten years to life in prison. On Thursday, his brother, who lives with him in Cedar Springs, told FOX 17 that the family is shocked, and the situation is too painful to talk about right now. He added, “I guess you don’t know someone as well as you thought.”