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State says 12 men caught in online sting

MERRIMACK, N.H. --A dozen men arrested in Hillsborough County are charged with using the Internet to contact children for sexual purposes.

The suspects are between 21 and 47 years old; they range from engineer to McDonald's assistant manager to unemployed. All were arrested since November due to online police work by the Southern Hillsborough County Cyber Safe Task Force, officials said Tuesday.

Eleven of the men were charged with prohibited use of a computer, a felony carrying a 3-to 7-year prison sentence. Police said several of the men exposed their genitals via Web cam to people they believed were underaged.

Authorities said one of the men, 31-year-old Michael Danklefs, of Manchester, drove through a snowstorm on Valentine's Day to meet a 13-year-old girl. The girl turned out to be a police detective and Danklefs was arrested.

"That's how desperate they are," said Hudson Police Chief Richard Gendron.

The others are: Daniel Fellows, 21, of Deering; Erik Van Winkle, 26, of Bretton Woods; Michael Herman, 30, of Manchester; Darryl LaFleur, 30, of Greenville; Eric Blaisdell, 21, of Haverhill; Rexander Gato, 24, of Manchester; Christopher Driesse, 36, of Weare; Peter St. Laurent, 47, of Webster, Mass.; Joel Hunt, 24, of Antrim and Robert Frasier, 22, of Rochester.

The 12th man, 21-year-old Adam Koch, of Pelham, was arrested Saturday and charged with two counts of felony sexual assault. Police say Koch had a sexual relationship with an underage girl he met online.

"Many of the suspects under investigation requested photos, preferably nude photos or Web cam images of the 'child,'" authorities said in a statement Tuesday. "The age of the 'child' was frequently the first questions asked during the chat ... The conversation quickly turned sexual in nature ... Many suspects asked detailed questions about the 'child's' sexual experiences."

Police said other arrests will follow once they identify individuals who have transmitted explicit photos of themselves to undercover officers.

Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said the task force's work shows the number of online sexual solicitations to children is growing. Part of prevention is teaching parents and children to be careful of information they post online.

"Kids today think nothing of placing images on the Web," she said. "We need to convince them to be careful when using cell-phone technology and social networking sites."

Ayotte said she and Gov. John Lynch are working to create a special prosecutor for online crimes.