The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

July 17, 2014

Raleigh judge finds probable cause in alleged child sex solicitation case

Probable cause was found Wednesday against 44-year-old Johnnie Ray Champ, a Princeton man accused of offering a Beckley mom $104 to have sex with her 5-year-old daughter.

Magistrate Steve Massie ruled that enough evidence exists to turn Champ’s case over to the Raleigh County grand jury.  

Champ was arrested July 1 in Princeton and charged with felony use of a minor in filming sexually explicit conduct; U.S. marshals filed additional charges of attempting to commit a felony and solicitation of a minor via computer.

Champ’s defense attorney Thomas Czarnik asked that his client’s initial $50,000 bond act as a blanket bond for all charges instead of a $250,000 bond for the latter charges.

“That’s not going to happen,” Massie said.

Raleigh County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Truman called Beckley Police Detective Cpl. M.G. Bragg to testify.

Bragg said Champ visited the dating website “Plenty of Fish,” and began talking with the mother, who was considering having sex with him for money, according to Bragg.

When Champ found out she was 35, he told her she was “too old” and asked if she could find him someone between the ages of 18 to 20.

Bragg said she suggested someone in that age range, but Champ declined again, saying that was “too old.”

During a text message exchange, the woman said she was baby-sitting a 2-year-old; Champ allegedly asked, “Is she what you found?”

The woman responded no, the child was a neighbor’s, but in an effort to “feel out his seriousness,” she mentioned that she had a 5-year-old daughter, Bragg said.

Champ allegedly requested a sexual encounter with her 5-year-old, and the woman said she tried to contact law enforcement, but was unable to connect with a police officer.

Bragg said she then asked three male friends to hide at her residence when Champ arrived.

When Champ came inside the residence, the woman’s daughter was asleep on the couch; Champ told her to strip her daughter naked and take her upstairs, according to Bragg’s testimony.

Champ told the woman he would need one hour with the 5-year-old before he would pay $104.

Two of the men met him and told him to leave, and the woman and the third man contacted police.

Champ left the house and later told police officers he was joking about wanting to have sex with the child; Bragg said he had asked for naked photos but didn’t think he would get them.

Czarnik asked if the criminal backgrounds have yet been checked of the mother or of the three men involved in the incident; Bragg said no.

“Is soliciting sex for money a crime in the state of West Virginia?” Czarnik asked, referencing the initial interaction between his client at the woman.

“Yes,” Bragg replied. “I did not work this as a solicitation/prostitution case. That may come out as this investigation unfolds.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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