A South Dakota man will spend five years on probation for trying to arrange a sexual encounter with an underage girl.
Alex M. Bawek, 29, of Worthing, was sentenced Thursday in Eau Claire County Court to a felony count of child enticement.
The girl Bawek was communicating with was an undercover law enforcement officer in a sting operation.
Judge Michael Schumacher acknowledged Bawek is at low risk of being a danger to the community and has no prior criminal record.
But Schumacher said he wonders what would have happened if Bawek actually met with a 14-year-old girl.
“I don’t know what may have happened,” the judge said. “That’s the part that’s troubling to me in these cases.”
As conditions of probation, Bawek has the option of spending 30 days in jail or performing 240 hours of community service. He must undergo a sex offender assessment and partake in any recommended treatment or programming.
Bawek cannot have unsupervised contact with children other than his own. Any internet use must be approved by his probation agent. He cannot use social media or pornography.
Bawek must also register as a sex offender for 15 years.
Bawek told Schumacher he has been receiving treatment and counseling since his arrest and knows his crime adversely affected his family and friends.
“It didn’t cross my mind I would hurt so many people,” he said. “I have no excuse. I should have known better.”
Even though Bawek “knew what he was doing was wrong,” Eau Claire County assistant district attorney Ellen Anderson said she was moved by the level of remorse and responsibility of his actions Bawek has taken in this case.
“I am struck in a favorable way,” Anderson said.
According to the criminal complaint:
An Altoona police officer responded Dec. 5, 2017, to a Craigslist post from a man saying he was in Eau Claire and looking for a female or couple who wanted to have some fun. The ad indicated the man, later identified as Bawek, was 28 years old.
The officer responded to the ad, posing as a 14-year-old girl. Bawek and the undercover officer did some online chatting for a time before Bawek started to turn the conversation into a discussion about sex.
Bawek also asked the undercover officer for some sexy pictures.
After the officer sent Bawek a picture of an underage female wearing a bikini, Bawek arranged to pick her up at an apartment building near an Altoona convenience store.
A police officer contacted Bawek when he arrived at the apartment building. Bawek admitted he was there to meet an underage girl and claimed she was 16 or 17 years old. He then admitted he knew the girl was supposed to be 14 years old.
Bawek also admitted he wanted to have sexual contact with the girl.
Officers found a box of condoms in Bawek’s vehicle.