INDEPENDENCE, Ky. -- A Hamilton County Justice Center corrections officer faces a single charge after authorities say he went online to try to meet and have sex with a 15-year-old girl.
The officer, 40-year-old John Kamphaus, pleaded not guilty Wednesday after he was arrested one week earlier near Mills Road Park in Independence, Ky. An undercover police officer posing as that teen chatted with him on his smartphone.
Court documents show Kamphaus, known as BigDog06900@aol.com online, exchanged messages with Detective Stephen Benner, a Kenton County Internet Crimes Against Children task force officer, about four times this year.
"Our officer is on-line in chat rooms," said Kenton County Police Chief Brian Capps. "He just is waiting to be contacted by folks out there in cyberland for lack of a better term. He was contacted by this gentleman and a chat begins. Our officer had no idea who he was talking to on the other end."
At about 1:20 a.m. Kenton County police officers initiated a traffic stop and pulled Kamphaus over on Marshall Road shortly after he sent a final message via Yahoo messenger.
"He believed he was going to be meeting this female for sexual activity," Capps said. "The chats leading up to this were sexual in nature."
Officers arrested the father of three young children without incident and took his cellphone as evidence.
"In this particular case, being another law enforcement officer, I just describe it as being very disappointing," Capps said of Kamphaus' arrest. "Kind of a letdown that someone in your profession would be involved in this kind of thing."
Kamphaus appeared for video arraignment on one charge of prohibited use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities Wednesday morning at about 9 a.m.
He received a $2,500 bond and was ordered to surrender all electronic devices to the court. If he posted bond, the judge also ordered Kamphaus to wear a GPS tracking device once released from jail.
Kamphaus, a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office employee since 1996, was also placed on unpaid administrative leave by Hamilton County until the disposition of his case was resolved.
Hamilton County Sheriff officials said they launched their own internal affairs investigation to see if Kamphaus used county equipment to attempt to communicate with minors online.
Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders said he was not surprised that even a law enforcement officer could get caught in such an online investigation.
"I think it's just a sense that it's not going to happen to me, I'm not the one that will get caught. I'm not the one that's going to end up on the news," said Sanders, whose office will prosecute the case. "Obviously in the situation we're talking about with the most recent charges, it's a law enforcement officer that got caught -- that's been arrested -- and been charged. He's innocent until proven guilty, but certainly if a law enforcement officer is getting arrested they more than anybody should know that there are cops out there looking for this and investigating this and just setting a trap for somebody to walk into."
Sanders said he believed such potential sexual predator situations are only increasing online, and that the job of such undercover officers as Benner were so important.
"I'm glad there's cops out there like Detective Benner that are trolling the Internet looking for these predators and doing whatever they can to try and take them off the streets before they actually get their hands on another young girl," Sanders said.