But for Mount's own parent, it's a mistake made by a misguided man.
Mount's 74-year-old mother said last week that her son, who was arrested May 10, "is the most distraught person now." She said he has never done anything wrong and the Internet sex was "something he [allegedly] got into - it was a stupid mistake."Mount's 74-year-old mother said last week that her son, who was arrested May 10, "is the most distraught person now." She said he has never done anything wrong and the Internet sex was "something he [allegedly] got into - it was a stupid mistake." "It was all a terrible misunderstanding and he is going to suffer for it," said Mrs. Mount, who did not want to give her first name. "If he could take it all back, he would. He was always a quiet, peaceful person." Mrs. Mount said neighbors have nothing to fear because her son has never gone into the nearby Ninth Street Park, which some have been concerned about, and "would not think of doing that." In fact, Mount was only arrested for something he did over the computer, not in person. "This was such a stupid thing to do," she said. "He can't turn back what's been done. I have to find someone to help him. I'm so upset."
Stayed in his home
The arrest came about as a result of an investigation conducted Computer Crimes Unit [CCU] of Bergen County Prosecutor's Office under the direction of Chief Michael Mordaga. Mount was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, attempted sexual assault, luring, and possession of child pornography, according to police reports.
A press release said Mount engaged in conversations via a www.yahoo.com Internet chat room. He allegedly used instant messaging to speak with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. In reality, Mount was communicating with an undercover Tenafly police officer. The suspect allegedly initiated sexually explicit dialogue during the course of the several conversations, the press release said. Mount also allegedly persuaded the girl he believed to be 14 into masturbation. Mount then masturbated while on line, exposing himself via a web camera to the undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl, according to the release.
A resident from Mount's neighborhood who wished to remain anonymous for family safety reasons said that many parents in the Ninth Street and Clarendon Street area are "on the alert." Mount made the $75,000 bail and was released from the Bergen County Police Department the day after his May 10 arrest, police authorities said. "You buy a house and don't expect none of this kind of thing," said the resident. "I never thought of him [Mount] as someone who would do this."
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office press release also stated that Mount became violent after being informed he was under arrest. The suspect was eventually subdued without injury and charged with an additional two counts - resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
"Ever since this happened, parents come down more frequently to watch their kids when they're at the park," said the resident. "People are very upset - he could be looking out of those windows and doing God knows what."
'Very careful of entrapment issues'
Assistant Prosecutor Brian Sinclair explained that the CCU works with a task force composed of Bergen County Police who dedicate time to investigating cyber crime outside their other duties.
"We are very careful of entrapment issues. You'd be shocked how quickly adults will engage in conversations with sexual content to teens, though," said Sinclair. "The undercover officers create an [Internet] ID in a regular teen chat room and wait to see if something happens."
The proactive investigation is a preventative measure for greater crimes against youth, Sinclair said. Secaucus, Bergen County and Tenafly police officers comprised the three-member team that arrested Mount.
According to a 2002 CNN report, 90 percent of children between the ages of 5 to 17 use the Internet at home or at school. That means 47.4 million of the 143 million Americans are underage youth.
In 1999, Forbes magazine reported Internet porn raking in an astounding $1.5 billion. This includes over 100,000 child porn websites.
Sinclair said some search engines, like AOL, have strictly monitored chat rooms.
"The unfortunate reality is that there are many, many unregulated chat rooms. It is amazing to me how often adults try to lure young adults into sexual practices there," said Sinclair.
Letter of the law
Sinclair stressed that Mount is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gathering evidence collected from the alleged sex offender's home may take the Prosecutor's Office some time. The attempted sexual assault and luring are both second-degree charges that could result in up to seven years imprisonment, Sinclair said.
Mount will be offered a Pre-Indictment Plea [PIP] when "we find out what we have."
"If Mount refuses the plea, we go to the Grand Jury to indict," said Sinclair. "Justice will be carried out. We are very satisfied with the past results of convictions and guilty pleas."
Mayor Dennis Elwell said many Secaucus parents were upset by the arrest and felt they should have been warned. But because of the nature of the CCU operation, Secaucus police authorities were not alerted until an arrest could be made.
"Mount hasn't been convicted and is still innocent until proven guilty by a court of law," Elwell said. "I have asked the Police Department to increase surveillance of all the parks and elementary schools in Secaucus."