Columbia man charged with trying to solicit sex from ’15-year-old girl’ who was actually a local vigilante

COLUMBIA — Police have charged a 36-year-old Columbia man with five felonies and four misdemeanors for allegedly attempting to solicit sex from a girl he believed to be 15 years old, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

The “15-year-old girl” that Thomas Wise is charged with soliciting was actually an adult — a self-proclaimed vigilante who was posing as a girl online.

Wise allegedly sent the “girl” several messages — including a lewd photo — and attempted to physically meet her on July 19 at Lancaster’s Binn’s Park.

He instead met the vigilante, who identifies himself on social media as “Mr. 17 5 40.” The man confronted Wise while streaming the encounter on Facebook Live.

Wise was arraigned Thursday. Bail was set at $150,000.

According to the DA’s office, Wise began interacting with the “girl” in June, using the Kik messenger app. He allegedly made sexual overtures and solicitations to the “girl,” and sent at least one lewd photo, according to investigators. He arranged to meet the “girl” at Binn’s Park.

Wise is charged with criminal attempts to:

  • Statutory Sexual Assault
  • Obscene and Other Sexual Materials
  • Indecent Assault
  • Corruption of Minors

He is also charged with criminal solicitations of:

  • Indecent Assault
  • Sexual Abuse of Children
  • Statutory Sexual Assault
  • Criminal Use of a Cellphone
  • Tampering with Evidence

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office and police departments in Lancaster County strongly advise citizens against confronting individuals they feel have or are committing crimes. Citizens should instead contact their local police department in such a situation, the DA says.


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