BRADENTON -- A 71-year-old Bradenton man was arrested at 1:35 p.m. Monday and charged with trying to have sex with a minor.
Raymond Robarge was arrested in the 100 block of Manatee Avenue and charged with traveling to meet a minor to have sex and using a computer to lure the minor.
Robarge allegedly made arrangements via cell phone to meet a 15-year-old boy, who was actually an undercover officer.
Bradenton Police Detective Kevin Bunch began the operation July 18 following a report by two teenage boys who said they were approached by a man who offered them money for sexual acts. After being told by the teens to get lost, the man still gave them his phone number.
"We are fortunate that he gave the one kid a phone number," Bunch said.
After determining the owner of the cell phone, Bunch contacted Robarge with an undercover device.
"I presented myself as the younger of the kids he had approached," Bunch said. "He replied asking if I was the young, good-looking one."
For several days, Bunch spoke with Robarge, who allegedly described in graphic detail the sexual acts he wished to engage in. A meeting was arranged at a Bradenton location.
While being interviewed by police following his arrest, Robarge allegedly admitted to having sexual conversations with a minor, according to the BPD. Robarge also allegedly admitted to knowing what he was doing with a purported minor was illegal.
Robarge was reportedly armed with a firearm at the time of his arrest. Manatee Judge K. Douglas Henderson set bond at $32,500 for Robarge.
Two of Robarge's friends appeared in court Tuesday to speak on his behalf. Anthony Perrotta and Fernando Juarez testified he was a kind, giving and respectful man.
"He's going to be scarred for the rest of his life," Perrotta said.
The men expressed shock at the charges.
"I help him around the yard because of his lungs," Juarez said. "He helps me out a lot."
Henderson appointed a public defender to Robarge.
Social media predator today cases like this are abundant throughout Florida, according to Bunch.
"Unfortunately it's nothing that is going away as quickly as we want it to," Bunch said. "We really haven't had that much of it Bradenton. We are fortunate."
Bunch said lack of supervision and understanding by parents of how children use electronic devices are part of the problem.
"A lot of it is that the parents need to be active," Bunch said. "They give these kids smart phone and they are just not being cognizant of what they are doing on these phones. They need to more aware."
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.