'Wanna Meet?' Ex-Jersey Shore High School Sportswriter Takes Plea In Underage Sex Luring Case

A former high school sportswriter from Ocean County admitted on Wednesday that he trafficked child porn off his cellphone and repeatedly pressed a minor to send him sexually explicit images, authorities said.

Kevin Van Pelt
Kevin Van Pelt Photo Credit: BACKGROUND: / INSET: Ocean County Prosecutor

Kevin Van Pelt, 33, of Lakehurst, was originally arrested in May 2019 after Gloucester County prosecutor's detectives and police in Woolwich Township said they found that he'd sought a meeting with a 14-year-old girl for sex through Snapchat and Instagram.

Van Pelt, who worked part-time for NJ Advance Media – the parent company of and the Star-Ledger – told the girl he’d been a rapist since he was 12 and needed to continue, a complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Trenton says.

“Wanna meet up?" it says he asked her.

The case went federal, and Van Pelt was subsequently charged by the FBI with online enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography.

Agents found that Van Pelt had "distributed images and videos of child sexual abuse over several online social media applications between December 2017 and March 2019," U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.

He even had child porn images on his phone when he was taken into custody by local authorities four years ago, the U.S. attorney said, 

Rather than risk the consequences of a trial, Van Pelt took a deal from the government, pleading guilty on March 22 to one count each of online enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct, distribution of child pornography, and possession of prepubescent child pornography.

He'll receive a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years for the online enticement plea and a five-year minimum for trafficking the child porn -- plus any extra time deemed necessary -- when U.S. District Judge Georgette Castner sentences Van Pelt on July 20 in Trenton.

Meanwhile, he remains in federal custody.

Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, along with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, with making the case that led to the guilty plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of his Criminal Division in Trenton.

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