A 21-year-old man was arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl he met through the Tinder app, police said Thursday.
Investigators responded to an unidentified charter school where they received a report that a student had been sexually assaulted by a man she met through the online dating app, according to a Santa Ana Police Department news release.
The preteen had posed as a 19-year-old woman where she met the suspect, identified as Sean Rickard, the release read. The two had communicated for eight months before the girl told the man she was really 12 years old.
Learning her true age, however, apparently did not dissuade the man, said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
On Monday, Rickard was accused of picking the girl up and sexually assaulting her in a Santa Ana parking lot, according to police.
Detectives began investigating immediately after the incident was reported.
Once they learned that Rickard used Snapchat to communicate with the victim, detectives posed as the girl and started communicating with the suspect, authorities said.
Rickard, thinking he was communicating with the 12-year-old, allegedly sent a video of himself masturbating through the social media channel. He then agreed to meet up with the girl “for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity,” detectives said.
But instead of the preteen, Rickard was met by detectives when he parked behind a clothing store in Anaheim later that evening.
Police then interviewed the suspect, who told them he knew the girl was 12 and allegedly admitted to picking her up from school to engage in sexual acts with her, according to the release.
Rickard was arrested and booked on suspicion of child abuse. His bail was set at $100,000.
Investigators think there could be other victims out there in the case and are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Nick Vega by calling 714-245-8368 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anonymous tips can also be left through Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.