An Oak Park man pleaded guilty last week to 12 charges of inappropriate conversations with juveniles.
Matthew David Myers, 40, a registered sex offender, appeared in Ventura County Superior Court Jan. 16 and pleaded guilty to 12 of 21 counts as part of a plea agreement. The crimes included sending harmful matter to a minor, child annoyance and one count of possession or control of child pornography.
Myers was arrested in December 2016.
Marc Leventhal, senior deputy district attorney for Ventura
County, said Myers had created profiles on several social media platforms where he posed as a teenager in order to make contact with local kids. In July 2015, authorities were notified of Myers’ behavior by a mother who found her teenage daughter’s conversations with Myers, who was posing as another teenager.
“Facebook produced 30,000 pages of records for (his) account,” Leventhal said. “For about a 20-month period, Mr. Myers used Facebook and other platforms to, on a serial, continuous basis, try to locate local kids and groom them. We personally interviewed 11 of those kids, but we’ve seen the names of many dozens of others who (we didn’t) contact, but from the content of the conversation it’s clear they were kids. We couldn’t track down every single kid, but at a broad estimate I’d say there were close to a hundred.”
Leventhal said Myers would typically contact kids and ask where they went to school, what grade they were in and if they played any sports. He mostly targeted teens between 16 and 18, but investigators identified a 12-year-old among the juveniles he had contact with.
In 2010 Myers was sentenced to three years in prison for molesting three of his cousins, with whom he also had inappropriate online contact. He was paroled in 2013 on the conditions that he not contact any minors, use false identities or use a computer that wasn’t monitored by his parole officer.
An investigation was launched after the mother contacted authorities about Myers’ contact with her daughter in July 2015. In September 2015, Ventura County sheriff’s deputies searched Myers’ home and found he had violated his parole, and he was sent to jail to serve time for the violation.
“Basically, he got out of prison in 2013, immediately signed those parole terms and violated every one of them,” Leventhal said. “He was arrested the day of the search warrant in 2015. In the meantime, we had quite a bit of investigating to do, tens of thousands of documents to go through, computers to examine. Basically, we timed the arrest in this case for when he was done with his time on the earlier probation violation.”
Deputies arrested Myers in December 2016 based on the evidence gathered from the search of his home. Last week he pleaded guilty to those charges.
Myers is set to appear in court for sentencing on Feb. 28.
Leventhal pushed for a 13-year sentence and Myer’s attorney requested eight years. The judge declared a maximum sentence of 10 years and four months. The exact sentence will be determined at the hearing.
“(Myers) wrote a letter to the court when he was sentenced for the molest case talking about how humbled he is, how responsibly he’s taking the matter, how he will never commit another crime,” Leventhal said. “Here’s a guy who got out of custody and didn’t waste a week before he started setting up his online accounts and violating the terms of his online parole. All of that’s going to factor in. Me and the defense attorney will have a respectful dispute about whether it should be eight years or 10 years and four months, but I’m hopeful that I’ll win that dispute.”