Man gets prison for luring 13-year-old

A 42-year-old Carson City man was sentenced Tuesday to six years in Nevada State Prison, for arranging a movie date with a 13-year-old Gardnerville girl while posing online as a 17-year-old boy.

Frank Pepper pleaded guilty to luring a child under age 16.

He never kept the date that he told authorities he hoped would lead to a sexual encounter.

District Judge Dave Gamble said Pepper would be eligible for parole after 18 months and must register as a sex offender with lifetime supervision.

"I'll never do something like this ever again," Pepper said. "I want counseling on the outside if I can get out."

Pepper has been in custody on $102,255 bail since his arrest Aug. 15.

The girl's parents testified Tuesday as to the effect the crime had on their daughter and family.

"When I first heard about this I felt rage, any man would," said her father, who spoke through his tears. "I'm feeling it now. He hurt my daughter. He called her at 2 a.m. to make the rendezvous. He could have killed her."

The victim's mother said her daughter has had a hard life and "a lot of health problems."

"She was vulnerable and gullible," her mother said.

Pepper's lawyer, Tod Young, said his client was incorrectly diagnosed as mentally retarded as a child and, as a result, was "socially retarded."

"Women his age view him as weird and aren't interested in him," Young said. "He hasn't been able to develop an appropriate relationship with a woman."

Young said Pepper didn't keep the date because he knew it was wrong and "he was afraid of this 13-year-old."

He said Pepper was not a pedophile.

"This is not somebody that I think the community has to be afraid of," Young said.

District Judge Dave Gamble said Pepper's ability to date appropriate women "is way down on my list of priorities."

"What he did the Legislature has deemed a felony. I guess it's a point in his favor that he backed out," Gamble said.

Prosecutor Tom Gregory disagreed that Pepper was not a pedophile.

"First, he looked at underage girls online, and he goes one step further. He starts to chat with this girl (the victim), and he goes one step further. He gets her telephone number and goes one step further and arranges to meet her," Gregory said. "His conduct escalated. Luckily, her 16-year-old sibling heard her on the phone making the date and her father called police."

Gregory said there was no reason to think Pepper wouldn't commit another offense if he weren't incarcerated.

Pepper reportedly contacted the girl in July 2007 and sent her sexually explicit messages until her father found out in August 2007. Investigators traced the suspect through a cell phone that belonged to his former roommate.

Pepper was arrested at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 15 on northbound Highway 395 in Minden as he rode his bicycle to Carson City on his way home from work.

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