A Wonder Lake man has pleaded not guilty to attempting to meet up with a 14-year-old girl for sex near Gurnee. The “girl” was actually an undercover detective.
Aaron C. Cornelius, 36, of the 4200 block of East Wonder Lake Drive in Wonder Lake, used a social networking app to communicate with who he thought was a 14-year-old girl, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Christopher Covelli said that the girl was actually an undercover detective.
Cornelius asked to meet the girl to engage in various sexual acts, Covelli said.
The man drove to a location in Warren Township near Gurnee on August 9 to meet with the girl and engage in those acts, Covelli said.
Cornelius was instead met by Lake County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Group (SIG) detectives. He was arrested and transported to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office approved two counts of indecent solicitation of a child and one count of traveling to meet a minor.
Cornelius entered not guilty pleas during a Friday arraignment hearing in front of Lake County Circuit Judge Patricia Fix.
He remains held in the Lake County Jail on a $750,000 bond, meaning he would need to post $75,000 cash to be released.
If Cornelius is able to post bond, he would not be allowed to have contact with children under 18, cannot be in daycare, park or school locations, cannot log into any interactive online sites, and he must provide authorities access to all of his communication devices.
“Children are some of our most vulnerable and we work tirelessly to proactively protect them. In the era of technology, I strongly recommend all parents and guardians monitor your children’s electronic use and have serious conversations about the risks of online predators, as online predators are prevalent, and they lurk in the shadows of cyberspace,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.
The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which is a SIG member agency, participated in the investigation.
A trial date is scheduled for January 24 while a case management hearing is scheduled for November 2.