Friday, March 23, 2007

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Cyber Crimes Unit Prosecutes Kerrville Veterinarian, Austin Community College Student for Child Sex Crimes

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit continued its aggressive crackdown on child predators this week as a Kerr County jury delivered a guilty verdict against a local veterinarian and, in Bastrop County, a 21-year-old former Austin community college student pled guilty to using the Internet to solicit sex from children.

Jonathan Ward Brooke, 54, was convicted by a Kerr County jury Wednesday on one count of online solicitation of a minor, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

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Jonathan Brooke

Grant Peanick

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey upon our children,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue aggressively cracking down on cyber predators. Thanks to our dedicated Cyber Crimes Unit investigators and prosecutors, Texas is a safer place for our children.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “We are grateful to Kerr County District Attorney Bruce Curry and Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz for their cooperation and assistance with these two cases.”

Cyber Crimes Unit investigators arrested Brooke in July 2005 when he drove from Kerrville to Buda to meet and sexually assault a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator who Brooke sexually propositioned in an online chat room. A Kerr County grand jury indicted Brooke in March 2006. Assistant Attorney General Angela Goodwin prosecuted the case. In determining punishment, jurors considered sexually explicit images of young girls and videos of bestiality investigators found on Brooke’s computer after he was arrested.

In another case, Grant Matthew Peanick of Kyle pled guilty Wednesday in the 21st State District Court in Bastrop to one count of criminal solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony. Peanick was sentenced to five years probation and he must register as a sex offender.

Peanick was arrested by the Cyber Crimes Unit in November 2005 after he drove to Bastrop to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl he had met online. Peanick, who was attending Austin Community College at the time of his arrest, was indicted by a Bastrop grand jury in April 2006. Assistant Attorney General Sarah Wannarka prosecuted the case.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2002, he launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms, and the Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children. Attorney General Abbott's initiative has resulted in more than 500 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 57 men on child pornography charges.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General's office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.