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Facebook predator pleads guilty

The man arrested in a 2011 “To Catch a Predator” type incident has pleaded guilty to using Facebook to solicit a 14-year-old girl for sex.

Wil-liam Allen Pilki-ngton, 40, was set to head to trial Tuesday; however, just before jury selections began, he entered his plea and will now serve 20 years in prison.

Pilkington, a Crossover Ministries client from Auburn, was caught after parents of multiple teenage girls reported that a man using the name “Bill Allen” had contacted their daughters on the social media site. Pilkington was ultimately arrested after Opp Police Department investigator Kevin Chance posed as one of the girls in a more than 12-hour online chat of sexually-explicit remarks. Pilkington, who stole a van to facilitate a meeting, was taken into custody less than 1,000-feet from a suggested meeting place.

“The officers involved in this case worked tirelessly to stop this man from preying on young girls,” said Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter. “The mind of a pedophile is a frightening place. It took incredible presence of mind for Investigator Chance to step into the role of a child and stay there for the better part of two days, so that they could stop Pilkington.”

Jeter said social media websites like Facebook are a playground for sexual predators.

“Pedophiles like Pilkington are always on the lookout for unwary children to exploit,” she said. “If the girls he initially contacted had not told their parents, this case could – and likely would – have ended differently. Because these girls, their parents and the Opp Police Department acted so swiftly, Pilkington was caught before he molested a child.

“The key to stopping sexual abuse is education,” she said. “As parents, we need to know what our kids are doing online and make sure they really know who their online ‘friends’ are.”

Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan sentenced Pilkington to prison; however, Pilkington applied for probation, and a hearing is set for Aug. 9. His conviction also requires him to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.