WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - He's accused of going online and soliciting a "13-year-old girl," who was really an undercover officer. But, at the time of his arrest, state agents say Daniel Bryan Penn had been busted for a similar crime just months before and was on probation.
Penn made his first court appearance Monday on the latest charges which actually stem from 2007. According to the arrest report, in January of that year, Penn "talked about various sexual contact he would like" with the 13-year old.
In February, the report says, Penn "asked if the 13 year old was still interested in meeting him." Agents say in March, "'Bryan' said that he could go to prison for... having sex with her."
Agents with the office of Florida's Attorney General say they traced these Internet messages to Penn, served a search warrant at his Boynton Beach home in May 2007, and learned Penn was on probation. In 2005, Penn chatted with a supposed "14-year old girl," who was really a Lantana Police officer.
After agents found Penn in violation of his probation, Penn went to prison for two years, then moved to Indiana. Now he's back to face the new charges, and potentially more prison time.
"These guys are very insidious and they know what works with kids," said Nancy McBride of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She says the Penn case why parents and kids need to stay on guard. She says some offenders are so driven, not even run-in's with the law halt their activities.
"You know it's frightening, frightening," exclaimed North Palm Beach parent Deborah Lomax. She says she checks to see what web sites her 15-year old step-daughter has visited. And her 8- and 7-year olds only use the computer in the living room, in front of mom and dad.
"You really need to be right on top of them," explained Lomax. "I'm like a shark. I circle around them."