LAWRENCE — A Norwell man accused of enticing a 14-year-old he met online into a sexual encounter at an Andover hotel is being held without bail after being deemed a danger to society.
Andrew Whittaker, 49, of 62 Brantwood Road, Norwell, has been held since his Oct. 5 arrest in Andover on charges of statutory, aggravated rape of a child and enticing a child under the age of 16. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment last week.
During a dangerousness hearing yesterday in Lawrence District Court, both the prosecution and Whittaker’s defense counsel sought to shed light on what led to the arrest.
Andover police Detective Kevin Aufiero said the Andover boy told police that in April he started posting to the adult sections of Craigslist and another social networking website, posing as an 18-year-old. Whittaker responded to one of the Craigslist posts in June, Aufiero said.
Aufiero said the boy “was having issues identifying his sexuality” and also was bothered by not having the “expensive electronics, such as laptops and cellphones,” that many of his peers had.
After the initial contact in June, Whittaker and the boy didn’t exchange messages until September, when they arranged a meeting in Andover, according to Aufiero.
During the meeting, Aufiero said, Whittaker “told the juvenile that he didn’t appear to be 18. However, the juvenile did state that he was.”
Whittaker bought the boy a smartphone when they met, then took him to a local video game store to buy him a game, the detective said. They next went to La Quinta hotel in Andover for a sexual encounter, he said.
After the boy’s parents learned about the encounter, they brought their son to the police station on Sept. 26 to report the activity. The cellphone was seized by Aufiero, who used it on Oct. 4 to contact Whittaker — posing as the boy — and bring him back to Andover.
After Whittaker was arrested and read his Miranda rights, he agreed to talk with police, according to Aufiero.
Aufiero said Whittaker admitted to many of the details the boy shared — including that a sexual encounter took place in town. However, he also brought up the issue of the age of consent and said he believed the youth was 16 or 17, based on his appearance, Aufiero said.
When Aufiero asked Whittaker why he returned to Andover for a second encounter, “his explanation was that he came to meet with the juvenile to question why he was lied to about his age,” Aufiero said.
Prosecutor Kimberly Gillespie said Whittaker “is preying on this boy because he is vulnerable, and he knows it.”
But the situation isn’t so cut and dried, Whittaker’s defense counsel, Hilary McCamic, argued.
Whittaker “has no prior convictions. There is no evidence that this is somebody who’s going online, looking at child pornography sites,” she said. “This is a man who went to a man’s site. He went to Craigslist, 18 and over, adult website, and the complaining witness posed as an adult.”
Ordering that Whittaker remain held without bail, Lawrence District Court Judge Michael Uhlarik ruled that he presented a threat to society and that there are “no conditions of release imposed upon Mr. Whittaker that will reasonably ensure the safety of the juvenile.”
A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15.