A 32-year-old former MTV reality television star is the subject of a nationwide search after authorities say he was caught trying to meet a girl under 15 for sex in Illinois. A $1 million warrant has been issued for Connor N. Smith after he fled from investigators conducting a sex-predator sting operation earlier this month, authorities say.
The investigation into Smith began several weeks ago, according to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators said that Smith spent weeks communicating online with an undercover detective posing as a girl under 15. During the conversations, Smith allegedly sent the undercover detective sexually explicit images and videos of himself.
As the conversations continued, investigators say Smith arranged to meet the person he thought was a girl for sex.
On Feb. 9, Smith drove to meet the girl but drove off when detectives moved in to arrest him, officials said.
The next day, the sheriff’s office issued a warrant for his arrest on three felony charges, including traveling to meet a minor, disseminating harmful material, and grooming. A judge in Lake County set bond on the warrant at $1 million.
The sheriff’s office said Smith indicated he would surrender but had failed to do so as of Wednesday. Authorities advised the public that anyone who spots Smith should contact law enforcement immediately rather than attempt to approach him.
Lake County Sheriff John D. Idleburg said his office has ramped up efforts to combat online child predators as kids have had increased internet and social media access, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Predators know how to exploit children for their own sexual gratification,” the sheriff told the newspaper. “This is largely (due) in part to electronic devices being at the fingertips of nearly every child. We make it a priority to investigate and arrest those who use the internet to prey on children.”
Smith rose to fame as a contestant on the MTV reality show “Are You the One” in 2015.
Smith was arrested and charged in 2021 with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in Indiana. But prosecutors dismissed the charges, telling the judge they did not believe they could prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt after the alleged victim ceased cooperating, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.
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