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Citizens group leads underage sex sting in Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz Sentinel | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

SANTA CRUZ — A Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk visitor was jailed Monday night as a result of a citizens’ underage sex predator sting.

Kirill Neledva
Kirill Neledva

Police booked 40-year-old Stanislaus County man Kirill Viktorovich Neledva on suspicion of three felonies, including soliciting sex acts, contacting a minor with sexual intent and distribution or exhibition of lewd material to a minor, in addition to two misdemeanors for contacting a minor with sexual intentions and child endangerment.

Child Safety Soldiers founder Shane Coyle, who contacted the Sentinel regarding the sting, said he confronted Neledva during a pre-arranged meetup at the Boardwalk with Santa Cruz Police Department officers waiting in the wings. Coyle alleged that his organization’s director of decoys and organization partner, who he referred to as J-Dog, chatted online for three months with Neledva after identifying himself as a 13-year-old girl. Coyle and J-Dog met with the Santa Cruz police to detail their efforts and provide documentation of their at times sexually explicit conversations in the hours before the bust, Coyle said.

Child Safety Soldiers provided screenshots of conversations and photos shared between “Nick” and the decoy teenager to the Sentinel. The organization was formed out of Coyle’s experiences with a predator interacting inappropriately online with his then 11-year-old daughter seven years ago. Coyle, of New Jersey, posts his work across social media, including live video updates and said he, along with his team of J-Dog and “Dozer” and in affiliation with Worldwide Predator Hunters, has been involved with more than 600 stings.

Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Jon Bush confirmed Tuesday that his investigators had sat down with the Child Safety Soldiers team before arresting Neledva late Monday night. Officers followed up Tuesday with a search warrant of his home, located in the city of Ceres, according to Coyle. Bush gave Child Safety Soldiers’ staff credit for their efforts to bring the case to his department with proper research.

“We did make that arrest but we’re still in the initial stages of the investigation and going through all of the evidence,” Bush said. “There was enough probable cause to make an arrest last night, but it’s still going to take many hours of digital forensic evidence, cellphone text messages, until the investigation is complete.”

This week’s sting was not the first underage predator operation set in Santa Cruz. Two years ago, organizers behind the San Diego-based Creep Catching Unit set up a similar trap that ensnared Watsonville resident Valentin Rodriguez, then a 62-year-old Hartnell College instructor who believed he was meeting a 14-year-old girl at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. Rodriguez was sentenced to two years of probation in September.

Neledva remained held at the Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail Tuesday evening.

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