SPRINGFIELD — A small-town mayor was in jail in Newton County on Monday on four counts of soliciting sex over the Internet from a police detective posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Police said Allen Kauffman, 63, was arrested Friday and remained in jail Monday on $50,000 bond on four counts of felony enticement of a child.
It was the latest in a string of online child sex stings by Jim Murray, a former Diamond police chief and now a detective who has been active in Internet investigations since around 2002.
Kauffman is the mayor of Collins, a town of about 200 people in St. Clair County about 50 miles northwest of Springfield. Diamond police said Kauffman is married and serves as a pastor of the Temple Lot Church in Collins.
Prosecutors alleged in court filings that Kauffman believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl from the Joplin area in a Yahoo chat room last November and December.
In the online messages, Kauffman allegedly asked the girl for sex and for nude pictures and encouraged her to have sex with a girlfriend in front of a webcam so that Kauffman could watch.
“He very much believed he was talking to a 13-year-old girl,” Diamond Police Chief Keith Brumfield said.
Kauffman’s attorney, Mel Gilbert, of Buffalo, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. Gilbert filed a motion for a bond reduction Monday, but no hearing dates were immediately set, according to court records.
A phone message left at Kauffman’s home was not returned.
Newton County assistant prosecutor Bill Dobbs estimated that Murray’s Internet investigations have led to about a dozen arrests, most of which have resulted in prison time for adult men convicted of soliciting sex from Murray’s online character. Some cases are pending but none have been dismissed, Dobbs said.
Murray typically poses as a 13-year-old girl in Web site chat rooms and waits for others to make sexual advances.
“I think he’s doing all he can to keep kids safe from predators. The problem is we don’t have near enough Jim Murrays and we have way too many children on computers,” Dobbs said.
Murray was Diamond’s chief of police from 1995 to 2000, when he retired. After getting a home computer around 2000, he discovered chat rooms and was angered when he was offered pictures of young girls. From there, he developed an interest in Internet sting operations.
“It irritated me that anybody would find satisfaction in looking at pictures of little girls unless they were their children or grandchildren,” Murray told The Joplin Globe in a 2006 interview.
He remains on the Diamond force as a detective in charge of Internet investigations. It is just the latest career change for Murray, who taught elementary school for 27 years before moving into law enforcement in the 1990s.