By Jonathan Sperling
A Broadway musician was charged with various child sex crimes on Friday after investigators say he tried luring a 14-year-old boy to meet him for sex on Parsons Boulevard.
Justin Brown, 26, a pianist for various Broadway shows, was using Snapchat and the dating app Grindr to communicate with the boy, who was in actuality an undercover police officer, according to investigators.
Brown was charged with attempted use of a child in a sexual performance, second- and third-degree attempted criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors and attempted endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, he faces up to 7 years in prison.
Authorities say a police officer working undercover online and posing as a 14-year-old boy on Sept. 2 used Grindr and allegedly received a text message from Brown asking for the boy’s age.
After being told that the boy was 14, Brown allegedly responded “nice” and asked about switching over to Snapchat, a social media app. Around noon that same day, the “teenager” received a message from Brown. A sexually-explicit conversation followed and Brown allegedly sent a photo of his face and a picture of his penis to the “teen.”
Numerous conversations between the “teen” and Brown followed between Monday and Thursday of that week, according to authorities. During those chats, Brown allegedly sent a video of himself masturbating, asked the boy if he was horny, the length of his penis and other sexually-explicit questions.
On Sept. 5, Brown allegedly asked asked the “teen” about meeting up for sex. A location was chosen on Parsons Boulevard and Brown was arrested after showing up. Inside his backpack was allegedly a bottle of lubricant and condoms. Brown later allegedly admitted in sum and substance to cops that he had scheduled the meeting with the “14 year old” and that he had been talking to numerous underage people.
“This case underscores the crucial importance of internet surveillance efforts by law enforcement to protect children from sexual predators,” Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said in a statement. “However, in addition to police being proactive, this should also serve as a warning to parents that at all times they must closely monitor their children’s online activities — in particular on social media apps.”