MORRIS, Ill. - A 23-year-old suburban man is accused of traveling to meet a minor for sexual purposes.
Ethan Kotlinski of Yorkville was arrested at a Walmart in Morris on Monday after allegedly having conversations with a person who he thought was an 11-year-old girl, and then traveling to meet the child.
When Morris police arrived at the Walmart, Kotlinski was in the parking lot on the ground surrounded by a group of people videotaping him.
Police learned that a resident of Morris had posed as the 11-year-old girl online and had sexual conversations with Kotlinski for several months.
"After having all those conversations...they made arrangements to meet at our Morris Walmart last night with the assumption that they would be having some kind of sexual contact," said Morris Police Chief Alicia Steffes.
Kotlinski was arrested and charged with a Class 3 felony. He is being held at the Grundy County Jail.
Joe Baker, who is a resident of Morris, is the one who posed as the 11-year-old girl. He recorded the encounter on video.
"I thought he deserved to be exposed and I honestly think the public deserves to know whose preying on our children," Baker said.
Baker runs a group called PredatorProof, which has no relation to law enforcement.
"I just want to kind of, you know, just raise awareness, you know, and help people realize that these predators can be just anybody," Baker said.
The Morris Police Chief’s biggest message to parents is to monitor what your kids are doing online.
"One thing we're trying to do is work with PredatorProof and work out this relationship so that we can do this where not only is the person exposed on social media, but also where we get criminal charges because our ultimate goal is for these people to go to jail," Steffes said.
Police say Kotlinski is currently out of jail on $2,000 bond.
"We are asking that parents please take note of how easy it is for predators to locate and build relationships with children online. Please monitor your child's online activity. If you go to Google and search "monitor my children's online activity" or "monitor my children's phone activity", there are countless resources and suggestions available," the Morris Police Department said in a statement.
You can find information about how to protect your child from becoming a victim of online child predators on the United States Department of Justice website.