Chat-room predator caught

Police say Arkansas man made an online deal to buy a little girl for sex.

Memphis police arrested an Arkansas man this week whom authorities said came to Memphis hoping to buy an eight-year-old girl for sex -- a deal he made in an Internet chat room.

Arlon Simpson, 50, a University of Arkansas custodian, allegedly made the request to a woman with whom he had been trading child pornography online. The woman then notified the police. "The [woman] had advised [police] that Simpson was wanting to purchase an eight-year-old girl to raise as his daughter and introduce her into a sexual relationship with him," said Joe Ball, an inspector at Shelby County Sheriff's Department, in Tennessee.

The woman had ongoing Internet contact with Simpson, a Prairie Grove, Arkansas resident, since June for purposes of child pornography and other sexual reasons, police said.

Using the woman as an undercover informant, police said they arranged for the sale of the girl. The deal involved the woman stating that she had a fictitious niece named "Stacey" whom she would sell to Simpson for $500 (£305), police said, but the price was too steep for Simpson.

"Mr. Simpson balked and stated that he only had $100," Ball said, "and would exchange numerous compact discs loaded with pornography, and numerous hard copies of child pornography for the remainder of the money."

Police said that Simpson traveled from Arkansas to Memphis, hoping to pay for the young girl but the sheriff's department was waiting for him. Simpson was arrested Saturday afternoon in the parking lot of a Wendy's fast-food restaurant in east Memphis.

When they found him, police say he had a loaded gun, a teddy bear, and child pornography. Simpson is charged with aggravated sexual exploitation of a child and unlawful possession of a weapon and is being held on a $10,000 bond.

Currently, Simpson faces only state charges, however, the US attorney's office says it is reviewing the case.