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Talent man arrested after allegedly sending sexual messages to girls

A months-long investigation into reports of Southern Oregon girls as young as 6 getting sexually explicit messages from a man in Talent led to the arrest of 21-year-old Zachariah Pergish Griffin last week.

The Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force, which investigates Internet crimes against children, reported today that Griffin was arrested Thursday on four counts each of first- and second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, two counts of second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, and a charge of second-degree attempted online sexual corruption of a child. A Jackson County grand jury had indicted him on those charges a week earlier, the task force reported in a news release.

In June the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified the local task force that a person in Talent had been sending sexually explicit messages to girls across Southern Oregon via Facebook and MySpace. Three girls — an 11-year"'old in Lake County, a 10-year-old in Medford and a 6-year-old in Grants Pass — were found to have received messages originating from accounts linked to Griffin and his Talent home, authorities said.

On Oct. 20, task force investigators served a search warrant at Griffin's home, seizing multiple items of "digital evidence," said Lt. Josh Moulin, head of the task force. A forensic examination found evidence of the online communications, as well as videos of children being sexually abused, he said.

Moulin said Griffin apparently hadn't met any of the girls and the images of abuse didn't involve local children. He noted, however, that this case clearly shows that people are using social networks to seek out children for sexual contact, so kids and parents need to be aware and stay safe.

Griffin remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $500,000 bail.

— Anita Burke