BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — When Brian Pardue logged into the adult dating app Skout on July 3, 2020, he communicated with an account which had a profile indicating it belonged to a woman, a court filing said.
In actuality, the account was created by a male Kern County sheriff’s detective working undercover who, after exchanging numerous messages, wrote they turned 17 in a month, the filing says. They continued communicating, including on sexual topics.
Pardue, at the time a California Highway Patrol officer, was later arrested at his home and charged with contacting a minor to commit a sex act. He’s scheduled for trial Oct. 3.
This week, attorney Jared M. Thompson, of Humphrey & Thompson, filed a motion to dismiss the case after discovering the detective, James Newell, destroyed the fake Skout profile he created, depriving the defense of potential exculpatory evidence showing the profile “was that of an adult female.” He said he can’t subpoena records from Skout without the missing information.
Asked for the profile information, Newell said he couldn’t remember the email he used, the profile picture or user name, or the dates the profile was created and destroyed, according to the motion.
“Detective Newell acted intentionally to deprive the defense of evidence useful for impeachment, necessary to present a defense, and having mitigating value for any potential punishment,” Thompson wrote. “Detective Newell chose to preserve only incriminating information knowing that exculpatory evidence existed and should be preserved.”
Prosecutor Ken Russell said his opposition to the motion was being filed Friday. It should be available early next week.
The motion is scheduled to be heard Thursday.
Pardue identified himself as a 48-year-old woman named “Anna” while communicating with the decoy account, sheriff’s reports say.
He later continued the conversation under his own name, the reports say, then alternated between accounts with his name and that of “Anna.” “Anna” told the decoy account “Brian” was her husband, and asked the decoy if she would like to engage in sex acts with them, according to the filings.
Plans were made to meet, but Pardue canceled because his daughter was coming over, the reports say.
Thompson’s motion, however, says the detective kept trying to arrange a time and place to meet but Pardue continuously declined.
“Mr. Pardue never goes anywhere to meet anyone,” the motion said. “There is no actual meeting or attempt to meet by Mr. Pardue. KCSO detectives and personnel went to Mr. Pardue’s house and found him inside.”
Pardue told detectives the profile he talked to indicated it belonged to an adult, according to sheriff’s reports. Detectives told him messages showed the decoy said they were 16 and Pardue repeatedly asked the decoy to say they were 18 instead.
Pardue said the chats were a form of “release,” according to the reports, “just fantasies and not real.”
In his motion, Thompson argues Newell’s use of an adult profile, the destruction of the profile’s information and deploying a “bait-and-switch” tactic by posing as a woman then claiming to be a 16-year-old girl amounts to entrapment. He said the detective “planted the seeds for criminal activity in an innocent mind.”
“No person should be subjected the potential of time in prison and lifetime sex offender registration based on such overbearing and outrageous government conduct,” Thompson wrote.