Internet luring suspect enters not guilty plea

Staff reports

By Drew Lange

Journal Staff Writer

Gerald Pride of Crookston, Minn., submitted a not guilty plea to the charge of Luring a Minor by Computer or other Electronic Means at Friday afternoon’s preliminary hearing. Pride is facing up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines if found guilty.

Pride was arrested on July 3 in Devils Lake at Roosevelt Park when he came to meet what he thought was a 14-year- old girl who he had been talking to in a chat room.

Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Smith was posing as the young girl in the chat room, and when he was brought to testify he pulled out over 150 pages of chat transcript ranging from February 9 to July 3. He estimated that there were around 85 days of correspondence between himself and Pride in the chat room.

Smith quoted Pride to saying that he has offered young girls sex for money before and was willing to pay up to $500. Pride admitted several times in the transcripts that he knew he was a predator and talked about stopping what he was doing after watching episodes of “To Catch a Predator” on Dateline NBC. Pride even went through the possible charges he could receive if caught by police.

According to the chat transcripts Pride made up his mind to make the trip, and on June 29 offered $100 just to meet somewhere and talk. He is quoted saying “I want to see you Friday…..I’m willing to risk it.”

On July 3, the day of the meeting and the arrest, Pride sent a message saying “I feel like I’m being setup”. After he was arrested he was very cooperative admitting “I knew this was going to happen. My life is over so I’ll cooperate.”

A pre-trial meeting has been set for October 27 and marks the last day plea agreements can be reached. A 12 person jury trial has been set for December 7-11.