Girard man charged in child predator investigation

Local News
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HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Girard man was taken into custody after police said he sent sexually explicit images to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Eric D. Birdwell, 44, of Girard, was charged with five counts each of unlawful contact with a minor and criminal attempt dissemination of explicit material to minors. Birdwell’s charges were part of Operation e-Traffic, a joint effort between state and local law enforcement officers to identify online child predators.

A total of 10 arrests were made following the operation that was conducted by the Attorney General’s Child Predator Section and the city of McKeesport police.

According to the release, an undercover agent, posing as a 14-year-old girl, made contact with a person identified as Birdwell. He is accused of sending sexually explicit messages and images to the undercover agent, investigators said.

Agents found specific information in a messaging application on Birdwell’s phone that he allegedly used to communicate with the undercover agent.

Birdwell was released on non-monetary bail and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 30.

According to the release, undercover agents and investigators identified several people who attempted to arrange sexual encounters with minors, including a 70-year-old man alleged to have solicited a mother for sex with her 10-year-old daughter.

The defendants charged in connection with this operation reside in Allegheny, Beaver and Erie counties.

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