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Man charged with soliciting child

An Austin man who allegedly tried to solicit sex from a 13-year-old girl made his first court appearance on Thursday in Mower County District Court.

Jacob Steven Smith, 29

, has been charged with felony solicit child to engage in sexual conduct through electronic communication and felony engage in electronic communication with child relating or describing sexual conduct.

According to the court complaint, an Austin police detective on Jan. 1, 2019,  learned of reports that implicated a 28-year-old Austin resident. Later identified as Smith) of having engaged in sexually explicit text messaging with a 13-year-old girl. The reports showed the victim was interviewed about the incident by the Grand Meadow Police Department, during which she indicated that she sent a partially nude photograph of herself to Smith.

The detective also saw that a Mower County Deputy had seized Smith’s cell phone after learning that a woman who knew Smith had discovered the text messages and photographs from the victim on Smith’s cell phone. The detective was later granted a search warrant to forensically examine the cell phones of Smith and the victim.

The woman who discovered the text messages told law enforcement that she confronted Smith about the messages and that Smith deleted items from his phone. She confirmed that she saw the messages and that they “were pretty much just talking about having sex with each other and stuff like that.” She said she had photographed the messages on her cell phone and showed them to law enforcement. The text messages were sexually explicit and indicated that Smith intended to engage in sexual relations with the victim.

A deputy spoke to Smith, who said, “[The victim] started texting me and then last night I found out how old she really was and I cut all ties off.” He said he had known the victim for a few months, but they had started texting around Dec. 29, 2018. He claimed the victim told him she was 18. When the deputy asked about photographs sent by the victim, Smith said she had sent him pictures that he deleted “right away.”

A detective spoke to a woman who knew Smith and the victim. She said she did not believe it was reasonable for Smith to believe the victim was anything other than a child. She also said Smith had been previously told the victim’s age and that he “definitely knew” she was 13.

Smith will appear in court again on Oct. 5.