SOMERSET, NJ - A Staten Island man was arrested after soliciting an undercover detective posing as a 13-year old for sex, according to police. 

Thomas McKernan, 31, of Colonial Court, Staten Island, New York traveled to a coffee shop on Cedar Grove Lane May 10, at approximately 11:35 am, to engage in sexual activity with what he believed to be a 13-year old female, according to police.

The girl turned out to be an undercover detective, police say. 

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After McKernan arrived he was arrested without incident by personnel from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Unit and the Franklin Township Police Department Detective Bureau, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Police say McKernan initiated chat conversations with the undercover detective, who identified herself as an underage girl. McKernan engaged in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet for sex. 

“It is a priority of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to protect our children from online predators who are taking advantage of the Internet’s anonymity and the access it allows to our children," Robertson said in a news release. "Law enforcement in Somerset County will be targeting social media platforms and chat applications being used by child predators to sexually exploit and lure children for sex." 

McKernan was charged with 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and 3rd-degree Attempt to Promote Obscene Materials.

McKernan is being held at the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Robertson request anyone with information to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 231-7100 or via the STOPit app. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or at www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE”. All anonymous Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

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