(TMU) — An active-duty recruiter for the U.S. Army who goes by the nickname of “Colorado Batman,” is facing a rough future after being arrested Monday on charges of trying to sexually abuse girls as young as 10 over the internet.
Ken Hardcastle, 31, used the name on the “sugar daddy” dating website Seeking Arrangement, according to police. The website has garnered negative publicity in the past for being a hotspot for pedophiles seeking under-aged prey.
Hardcastle, who was stationed at Fort Collins in Colorado, was arrested after investigators accused him of using social media to lure children online and exploit them sexually.
The Arapahoe Sheriff’s Office released two photos from Hardcastle’s online profiles in a tweet Tuesday alongside an appeal for members of the public with information about his crimes to contact the department.
The tweet said:
“Sexy? Think again. Investigators just arrested Ken Hardcastle, 31, for soliciting girls as young as 10 for sex with these photos on social media. He’s an active duty U.S. Army Recruiter. We worry there may be other victims. If he’s chatted with your daughter, call 720-874-8477.”
Sexy? Think again. Investigators just arrested Ken Hardcastle, 31, for soliciting girls as young as 10 for sex with these photos on social media. He's an active duty U.S. Army Recruiter. We worry there may be other victims. If he's chatted with your daughter, call 720-874-8477. pic.twitter.com/lP0qkRwSpj
— Arapahoe Sheriff (@ArapahoeSO) July 16, 2019
In one dating profile that portrayed the recruiter drinking, his bio notes that he is “looking for a good sb.” The abbreviation “SB” means “sugar baby,” which for consenting adults can mean providing “companionship in exchange for being pampered,” according to Bustle.
However, Hardcastle’s alleged attempts to seek a “sugaring” arrangement with minors clearly fell into the category of predation toward children in hopes to sexually abuse them.
An arrest affidavit acquired by 9news revealed evidence that was collected by police from someone who had spoken to Hardcastle via Snapchat and a dating website. In the chats, Hardcastle expressed his desire to have sexual contact with a 10-year-old.
Police then worked with the informant to launch an undercover operation that used a photo of a female sheriff’s deputy posing as a 14-year-old named “Sarah” to spur Hardcastle into requesting nude images and information about her sexual history. He then flashed the female deputy and masturbated in front of her via video chat, the affidavit said.
In a separate incident involving a 16-year-old girl, Hardcastle nagged the teenager to send him nude images of herself and her friends.
Nick Rodriguez, the sergeant of the police department’s Internet Crimes Against Children’s Unit & Special Victims Unit, told the news outlet that deputies have scoured Hardcastle’s home to find evidence of further victims. Rodriguez said:
“We come across these individuals all the time. In this specific case, him going after a 10-year-old, yes that’s surprising. Usually these guys are going after 14, 16 year-olds. But to take it to the extreme of someone so young and innocent like that, it’s disturbing.”
Urging parents to be aware of their children’s activities, he added:
“Kids have a lot of ways to communicate with adults. They talk to adults all the time. Unless you’re listening, a predator could be going after them.”
In a statement obtained by CBS4 news, the Army Recruiting Command for Denver acknowledged that Hardcastle had worked in Fort Collins since 2015 but had been suspended for unrelated matters last year.
The Denver Battalion’s spokesperson said:
“Denver Army Recruiting Battalion takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and does not tolerate inappropriate behavior by any personnel in this command. As the Army’s ambassadors to communities across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, it is an expectation for every one of our recruiters to embody the Army’s core values in everything they do.”
Hardcastle appeared in court Tuesday morning, and his bond has been set at $10,000.