GREELEY, Colo. – A convicted sex offender living in Greeley was arrested Thursday when he tried to meet up with someone posing as a 15-year-old girl who is part of a citizen network that aims to highlight the activities of sex offenders.
Travis Joe Benson, 30, faces a felony charge of attempted promotion of obscenity to a minor and a misdemeanor charge of attempted sexual assault – 10-year age difference.
According to an affidavit for Benson’s arrest, an Idaho man who runs a Facebook group called “Hunted and Confronted” called police last Wednesday to say that one of his “teammates” had been texting with Benson.
Benson was previously convicted of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl while he was age 18 and living in Wyoming. He served eight years in a Wyoming prison, according to the affidavit, then failed to register as a sex offender after he was released on parole and had to spend another 18 months in prison.
Further investigation by police revealed that part of Benson’s terms of release mandated he didn’t have a device capable of accessing the internet.
But according to the affidavit, one of the Hunted and Confronted group members created a fake profile on a dating app in which she claimed to be 18 years old. The affidavit says Benson messaged her first, initiating the conversation, which eventually led to the two texting.
The affidavit says that Benson continued to elevate the conversation to a sexual nature as the two texted each other. Eventually, Benson allegedly asked about her sex life and told her about his prior relationship with the teen girl, for which he was sent to prison.
But he said he was “falling for” the girl and eventually asked her to be his girlfriend, telling her he loved her. As the sexual talk continued, Benson at one point allegedly sent her a picture of his penis and talked about them having unprotected sex.
Eventually, the two agreed to meet up at a Greeley convenience store on Thursday morning. Benson showed up, but the girl never did. Instead, the Idaho man who runs the Facebook group was there and recorded Benson before police showed up and arrested Benson.
Benson waived his Miranda rights, according to the affidavit, and after initially denying who knew what he was doing, he admitted to being at the convenience store to try and meet up with who he thought was a 15-year-old girl for sex, the affidavit says.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation records show Benson reported as a sex offender to Colorado authorities on June 28. The affidavit says that Benson told police he was homeless but had been staying at Respite Care at North Range Behavioral Health.
Benson was being held at the Weld County jail on a $10,000 bond as of Tuesday morning, according to court records.