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Girl and her friends help catch sex offender charged with trying to entice her

SHARE Girl and her friends help catch sex offender charged with trying to entice her

The 1st District Courthouse in Logan is pictured on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A registered sex offender who police say tried to entice a teenage girl by pretending he was also a minor has been arrested in Cache County — thanks in part to the girl’s friends.

Tanner Paul Clark, 27, of South Weber, was charged Thursday in 1st District Court with seven counts of enticing a minor by text or internet, a third-degree felony.

In December, police say Clark friended a 15-year-old girl on Snapchat. Clark allegedly told the girl, however, that he was 17 and living in Brigham City. Two weeks after friending her, Clark began asking the girl for nude photos, which she refused, according to a police booking affidavit.

On Wednesday, Clark messaged the girl and asked if they could meet up and drive around together, the affidavit states. The girl agreed, but then had her friends go with her.

The two agreed to meet in a church parking lot described only as somewhere in Cache County in the report. Clark arrived and parked on the opposite side of the lot from the girl. “She stated that he messaged her and tried to get her to come and get in his car. She stated that she told him no and to come over to her,” according to the affidavit.

When Clark saw that the girl had brought friends with her, he “took off,” the affidavit states. The friends followed Clark and took pictures and videos with their phones of his license plate and of him “trying to hide his face with his hand.”

Police were contacted and using the picture of the license plate, were able to identify Clark as their suspect. Clark’s probation officer took him into custody.

In 2018, Clark was charged with 14 felonies in Weber County for having sex with one 17-year-old girl and sending explicit pictures to another, according to charging documents. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 17-year-old, and two counts of dealing in harmful materials to a minor.

In April 2019, a sentence of 10 years to life in the Utah State Prison was suspended and Clark was ordered to serve 90 days in jail and was placed on three years of probation. As part of his conditions for being on the Utah Sex Offender Registry he was not allowed to own a smartphone or have a Snapchat account, according to the affidavit.

Correction: An earlier version said Clark told the girl he was 15, but the affidavit says he told her he was 17.