A Washington man was arrested and has been released on bail after police say he solicited a “sex date” from an undercover vice detective posing as a 15-year-old boy, offering to be the child’s “sugar daddy.”
The King County Prosecutor’s Office charged Hemant Kurmi, 34, of Bellevue, with two counts: communication with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor. He was booked into jail on July 20, and prosecutors requested $75,000 bail. The judge set bail at $37,5000, and Kurmi posted bail and was released on July 25.
The Bellevue Police Department, which serves the city across Lake Washington from Seattle, used the case to sound the alarm about an uptick in the disturbing trend of “sugaring,” where juveniles take up relationships online with older individuals in exchange for expensive goods or money.
Police warned parents victims often are unaware they’re being groomed by these adults for sex or sex trafficking.
A detective with the Bellevue Police Department created an online social media account and said Kurmi contacted him through this fake profile.
The conversation quickly turned into a conversation about sex, according to authorities. The detective told the suspect he was 15, in high school and still lived with his parents, but Kurmi still allegedly made a date and showed up at the meeting location in Bellevue.
Detectives were waiting for the suspect and arrested him without incident, the Bellevue Police Department said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This was a case of sugaring, which we are seeing a lot more recently,” Bellevue Police Captain Shelby Shearer said. “We often see juveniles and other vulnerable people engage in relationships in exchange for material goods and money. They’re looking for a sugar daddy.”
“The danger arises when the victims don’t realize they are being groomed for sex or sex trafficking,” Shearer added.
The department said parents are encouraged to pay attention to any unusual gifts or expensive items that simply appear and to be involved and monitor their child’s social media contacts.
“It’s also a good idea to talk with kids about the dangers of these kinds of grooming tactics,” the press release said. “If you or someone you know is a victim of human sex or labor trafficking, you are encouraged to contact Bellevue police at [email protected] Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.”