Crime

Columbus man, 26, chatted with 14-year-old on meeting app to have sex, police say

De’Andre Downs\
De’Andre Downs\

A Columbus police detective was posing as a 14-year-old on dating app Meet24 when man started chatting with her to have sex, the detective testified Thursday in Recorder’s Court.

De’Andre Lavonte Downs, 26, pleaded not guilty to one felony count of computer or electronic pornography and child exploitation prevention. Judge Julius Hunter set bond at $25,000 on the charge and bound it over to Muscogee Superior Court.

Police detective Amanda Hogan said she was part of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation operation in Cartersville, Ga., on Nov. 1 as officers posing as a 14-year-old chatted on Meet24 and Meetme social media apps.

Hogan said she started chatting with a man in Vista Terrace in Columbus, 118 miles away from Cartersville, on Saturday. The two chatted online and through phone text messages.

Before setting up a meeting with Downs, Hogan said police were able to identify him. The two exchanged text messages and agreed to meet at the Circle K at 5155 Warm Springs Road.

Mike Garner who represented Downs wanted to know about the profile online. Hogan said it was a 23-year-old GBI analyst posing as 14-year-old.

Downs was arrested about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of the convenience store. Police seized his cell phone from the seat of the car without a search warrant. A warrant will be sought to look into the phone, Hogan said.

Garner asked for a bond for Downs who lives with his parents and works at Walmart. Hogan said police also are looking into another contact he allegedly had with another female.

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