NEW INFORMATION: Remaining three men arrested in child sex trafficking sting now charged


If you have any information related to this investigation, you are encouraged to contact the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division at 715-839-4978.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- The remaining three men arrested in the child sex trafficking sting are now charged.

Bernie Jo Staves, 34, David Frank, 42, and Ronald Lanners, 48, have now been charged in court.

They all have been charged with attempted child enticement, attempted sexual assault of a child under 16 and use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

All three, along with two other men, Jay Liestman and Mark Potts, were arrested last week during an area child sex trafficking sting.

The criminal complaints say there were all arrested after responding to an ad on craigslist after conversations they had with undercover police.

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Two of the five men arrested for sex crimes involving children are now charged.

Jay Liestman and Mark Potts both had their initial appearances in Eau Claire County court Tuesday morning. Both face several charges including use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement.

According to the criminal complaints, Liestman and Potts both exchanged emails with an undercover officer, on separate occasions, posing as a child.

Bernie Jo Staves, David Frank, and Ronald Lanners were also arrested after officers placed fake ads involving children on Craigslist.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis.(WEAU)-- Five area men are charged with soliciting sex with children after investigators posted ads on Craigslist.

The men arrested are Bernie Jo Staves, 34, David Frank, 42, Ronald Lanners, 48, Jay Liestman, 41, and Mark Potts, 37.

Three of the men are from Chippewa County, one is from Dunn County and the other is from Polk County.

“To net five felons for this type of activity is pretty shocking to most of us,” Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said.

Cramer says late last week investigators conducted a two day sting targeting people looking to have sex with children.

He says undercover officer placed fake ads on Craigslist either posing as a teen, or as an adult willing to traffic or sell a child for sex.

Cramer says the fake posts received multiple responses through email, texts and phone calls.

“They had to meet a certain criteria and ask for some certain things before we would set up a meet with them,” said Cramer.

Officers arranged to meet with individual who responded to the ads in parking lots and motels. Four of the men were arrested in Eau Claire County and one man was arrested in Dunn County.

“The evidence will certainly show that their intent was to have sex with an underage minor there was no doubt,” Cramer said. “They themselves could have walked away at any point in this and said I’m not interested in it,” he added.

The men are facing charges on various sex crimes including; Child enticement, possessing child pornography and 2nd degree attempted Sexual assault of a Child.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (RELEASE FROM EAU CLAIRE POLICE DEPT.) -- The Eau Claire Police Department, Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) are working collaboratively to combat the exploitation of children in the Chippewa Valley.

As part of this effort, on Thursday September 19, and Friday September 20, 2013, law enforcement worked in cooperation with the Chippewa Valley Regional Computer Forensics Lab (CVRCFL) to combat child trafficking.

Investigators assigned to the CVRCFL posted ads for underage children either looking for sex or as an adult who was looking to traffic or sell a child for sex. Investigators received multiple responses which included e-mails, text messages, or telephone communication from the suspects. The communication resulted in the suspects requesting to meet for sex at a pre-designated location in the Chippewa Valley. The undercover officers met with the suspects and took them into custody. Investigators received many responses to their ads and spent considerable time communicating to a multitude of potential suspects.

The following individuals were arrested as a result of the operation:
Jay A. Liestman, Mark A. Potts, Bernie Jo K. Staves, David R. Frank, Ronald S. Lanners.

Human Trafficking poses significant public health, safety and quality of life issues. Drug trafficking, robbery and other serious crimes are often related to this activity. The investigation into Human Trafficking will be a priority for our agencies and we will continue to arrest individuals who come to the Chippewa Valley seeking children related to these types of crimes.

According to Eau Claire Police Deputy Chief Jerry Staniszewski, “We have put a priority on protecting the health, safety, and welfare of our children by proactively seeking out those who threaten to victimize this vulnerable population.” Deputy Chief Jerry Staniszewski is the Advisory Board Chairman for the Chippewa Valley Regional Computer Forensics Lab.

The Division of Criminal Investigations in an important law enforcement partner on this ongoing effort.

The CVRCFL lead agency is the Eau Claire Police Department with the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office and the Altoona Police Department as partners. The Eau Claire Police Department and Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office are appreciative for the continued support from the respective City Council and County Board for support of the joint CVRCFL.


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