Text conversation leads to felony sex-related charges for Town of Merrrill man
This afternoon, a Town of Merrill man was ordered held on $100,000 cash bond, on charges related to a sexually explicit text conversation with what the man reportedly thought was a 10-year old boy. 51-year old James Ament appeared in Lincoln County Circuit Court via video conference from the Lincoln County Jail, facing felony charges of Attempted 1st Degree Sexual Assault of a Child, Use of a Computer to Facilitate a Sex Crime and Child Enticement.
According to a criminal complaint filed with the Lincoln County District Attorney’s office. On Tuesday, August 21, Ament was contacted via telephone by a child who reportedly found Ament’s number written on a bathroom wall. The boy told investigators he was with his brother fishing at a rural Lincoln County lake when he found the phone number. The boys indicated they thought it would be funny to call the number. When Ament answered he reportedly represented himself as ‘thirty-something’ years old, offered to meet the boy and perform sexual acts. The boy immediately hung up and his brother reportedly called Ament back. Ament made the same offer, but asked to meet Wednesday August 22 instead, despite the boy telling Ament he was “only 10”. Ament reportedly told the boy “that’s okay”. The boy immediately hung up and contacted law enforcement. Due to the nature and severity of the incident, the responding deputy turned the case over to a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Investigator who is specially trained in crimes against children via the ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force.
On Wednesday August 22, the investigator set up a phone account and contacted Ament via text message, posing as a 10-year old boy named ‘Alex.’ Throughout the day Wednesday Ament contacted Alex via text message attempting to schedule a meeting place and time and explicitly discussed his intentions which included sexual acts, watching pornography and alcohol. At one point, Ament advised Alex he had a pair of ‘skinny jeans’ for him to change into at Ament’s residence. Then at 6:15 AM Thursday morning, Ament contacted Alex via text message stating “Morning hot stuff”, “Get Up” and proceeded to attempt once again to schedule a meeting. Alex agreed to meet Ament at a city of Merrill Park. When Ament arrived at the park, he was met by several sheriff’s deputies and taken into custody.
During a press conference at the Sheriff’s Office Thursday afternoon, Lieutenant Investigator Chad Collinsworth thanked the Merrill Police Department for their assistance with the investigation. Following Amen’t arrest, Collinsworth stated a search warrant had been executed at Ament’s home. Items seized include Ament’s cell phone, a camera, and boy’s sized underwear. Collinsworth stated the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be forthcoming. He indicated the department had no prior history with Ament being involved in these types of offenses. According to court records, Ament has no prior criminal history.
If convicted Ament faces up to 95 years in prison.
Ament’s next court appearance will be a preliminary hearing set for September 5.