(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.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.