Thursday, December 15, 2005

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Attorney General Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit Pursues Austin Area Child Predator For Violating Probation

AUSTIN – A Round Rock man arrested and prosecuted by Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit has been banned from using a computer, following a hearing during which the Attorney General’s prosecutors asked the court to revoke the convicted child predator’s probation.

Randolph W. Cottingham, 28, who was convicted in August 2004 for criminal solicitation of a minor, was originally sentenced to 150 days in county jail, 10 years probation and a $2,000 fine. Cottingham was detained by Bastrop County authorities on Nov. 1 after he admitted that he had viewed pornography on the Internet, a violation of the terms of his probation. A Bastrop district court judge on Tuesday ordered him not to use a computer until his 10-year probation period ends, and also extended his county jail sentence to the maximum 180 days. In addition, Cottingham must submit to three polygraphs in the upcoming year.

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Randolph Cottingham
Randolph Cottingham
Video of Arrest
Video of Arrest


“Anytime a convicted child predator views online pornography, the likelihood for him to re-offend increases,” Attorney General Abbott said. “I am pleased the court has sent a strong message that we are watching him and I thank the Bastrop County District Attorney’s Office and Williamson County Adult Probation Office for their work in holding this man accountable.”

The Cyber Crimes Unit arrested Cottingham in October 2003, after he arrived at a retail store in Bastrop where he planned to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex whom he had met in an Internet chat room. The girl was actually an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator. Evidence presented at Tuesday’s hearing revealed that he showed up for the meeting wearing pantyhose and brought several additional pairs of pantyhose, high-powered binoculars, a camera and condoms. At the time of his arrest, Cottingham was employed by a Pflugerville broadband service.

Cottingham is registered as a sex offender with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which maintains a list on its Web site at www.txdps.state.tx.us.

At the Tuesday hearing, Bastrop District Judge Terry Flenniken allowed Cottingham to have a computer at home for his 6-year-old daughter, but its use is monitored remotely by the Bastrop County Adult Supervision Department.

Cracking down on sexual predators is a top priority of Attorney General Abbott’s administration. His Cyber Crimes and Fugitive units have arrested almost 360 sexual predators since he took office in December 2002. The Cyber Crimes Unit has made 69 arrests to date. The Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, has arrested more than 250 of these parolees. In addition, the Fugitive Unit has arrested 36 unregistered sex offenders as part of Operation Missing Predator, a statewide initiative launched in April to locate and arrest convicted sex offenders who are not in compliance with sex offender registration requirements.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.