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Case Against Alleged Computer Sex Predator Will Move ForwardSubmitted: 05/20/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Case Against Alleged Computer Sex Predator Will Move Forward
RHINELANDER - In March, Benjamin Lahti posted on Craigslist he wanted sex.

A girl claiming to be 15 years old responded to the 24-year-old Ironwood man.

They planned to meet in Minocqua.

That's when Lahti was arrested as part of a statewide internet sex predator sting.

"I asked if he knew why I wanted to talk to him. He stated because of the 15-year-old girl he was supposed to meet," testified Minocqua Police Sgt. Jason Benbenek.

Lahti was actually messaging an undercover sheriff's deputy.

On Monday court, Lahti's defense lawyer tried to say he may not have known the girl was underage.

Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom threw out that claim.

He also wondered what might have happened in a different situation.

"Instead of Officer Benbenek being there, there was a vehicle with a female, physically mature, 15 years old - who knows what would have happened, under those circumstances?" said Bloom.

Judge Bloom found enough evidence to move forward with a felony sex crime charge.

Lahti will return to court on June 10th.

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Editor's note: an earlier version of this story inaccurately credited the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation with securing grant funding for internet projects in Land O' Lakes and Conover.  That money was secured through grant applications from ChoiceTEL.  Newswatch 12 regrets the error.

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