A Fort Riley man who is charged with sexual crimes with a child allegedly met a 12-year-old girl via a niche dating app where she had claimed she was an adult, the girl said Friday.
Jamichael Strahan, 19, Fort Riley, is charged with two counts of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated indecent liberties with a child, and two counts of contributing to a child’s misconduct. Riley County police arrested him on Aug. 25 on a warrant.
Other Fort Riley soldiers also have been arrested in the case.
During a preliminary hearing Friday, the girl, who is 13 but was 12 at the time of the incidents, testified she had created a profile on the app BLK, a dating service for black men and women, and indicated her age was 19. She was identified by her initials in court, but The Mercury typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual crimes.
The girl said after messaging over the phone for a while, she met Strahan three times in person in August. The first time, she said she hung out with Strahan, his friends and her friends one night, but then she went with Strahan to a hotel in Junction City. The second time, she said she and Strahan drove with friends to Topeka and they had oral sex. The third time, she said Strahan picked her up from her residence and they drove to City Park in Manhattan where they hugged and kissed. He was going to take her home after the girl saw her mother had called and texted her, she said, but an officer stopped them in the car as they were leaving.
Riley County police officer Edward McNamara said he had been on the lookout for the girl after her mother reported her missing, and she had used her phone to identify her daughter’s location around City Park.
McNamara testified he stopped the lone car at the park and saw a girl matching the daughter’s description in the passenger seat, but another responding officer spoke to the driver directly. McNamara said the other officer reported when he told Strahan the girl’s actual age, Strahan appeared shocked.
McNamara said he took the girl back to the police station and contacted her mother. While they were at the police station, McNamara said Strahan called the girl’s phone. McNamara spoke to Strahan along with the girl’s mother, who was at the station as well. McNamara said Strahan identified himself, said he’d been with the girl on other occasions, but he did not mention any sexual interactions between them.
McNamara said he also spoke with the daughter while at the police department and she told him about other times she had hung out with Strahan, the dating app, and that she said she was older than her actual age in her profile on that app.
The hearing continued late Friday morning.
Tavian Garrett, 23, Zelond Benymon, 19, and Brian Markel Griffith, 20, all of Fort Riley, also face similar charges; police arrested those three late last year. Prosecutors allege the incidents occurred between May and October.