Two face charges of soliciting minors in Simpson

Published 3:07 pm Sunday, September 10, 2023

By JUSTIN STORY, Bowling Green Daily News

Federal indictments have been returned against two men who were arrested last month on suspicion of soliciting minors online for sex.

Aaron Richard Schultz, 47, of Chattanooga, and Matthew Warren Burkhard, 35, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green.

Both men are charged with attempted online enticement of a minor, and Schultz is additionally charged with attempted travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Schultz was arrested in Simpson County on Aug. 4 and Burkhard was arrested there the next day, both as the result of an undercover investigation undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies in Simpson County.

According to online federal court records, both men had engaged in online chats of a sexual nature with someone who held themselves out to be a 14-year-old girl, but who was actually an undercover police officer, and then traveled to Franklin with plans to have sex with the purported juvenile.

Federal criminal complaints show that law enforcement officials secured a hotel room in Simpson County to conduct the operation, which was supported by multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

An agent using a social media site on Aug. 3 matched with another user who identified himself as “Mark,” and who was later determined to be Schultz.

The initial chat conversation was made sexual in nature by Schultz, who expressed a desire to meet the juvenile in person and requested a telephone number as a separate means of communication and to confirm the person’s identity, the complaint said.

During the telephone conversation with what court records describe as a decoy, Schultz reiterated his desire to meet with the juvenile for sex.

On Aug. 4, Schultz and the undercover agent communicated via text message and a voice call about a meeting location, agreeing to meet at a restaurant in Franklin.

At that location, the undercover agent asked Schultz if he was “Mark” and, after Schultz confirmed that information, law enforcement attempted to arrest him.

“Schultz fled approximately 75-100 yards on foot when confronted by law enforcement,” the criminal complaint against Schultz said. “Only after stumbling and falling into a drainage area was Schultz apprehended … . While en route to the (Simpson County) Sheriff’s Office, Schultz asked the transporting trooper whether he was going to be sent to prison in Kentucky or Tennessee.”

During an interview with law enforcement Aug. 5, Schultz confirmed he traveled to Franklin for what he believed to be sex with a 14-year-old and told police they would find condoms and Plan B medication in his vehicle, the complaint said.

When questioned about previous sexual contact with any juveniles, Schultz acknowledged creating a fake profile on a social media dating application and was contacted by a 13-year-old with whom he later met and engaged in sexual acts on more than one occasion, recording one instance on video, the complaint said.

Schultz also reportedly confessed to improperly touching a fourth-grade girl about five years earlier while employed as a school nurse and to secretly video recording a second-grade student while she was using a private bathroom in the nurse’s office.

A criminal complaint against Burkhard sets forth a similar narrative involving an undercover officer posing online as a 14-year-old girl.

Burkhard is alleged to have sent a message to the agent in which he asked to meet the juvenile for sex.

Burkhard sent a message to the agent Aug. 5 indicating he was traveling to Franklin, and the agent requested Burkhard order some food from a restaurant drive-thru near the motel where the two agreed to meet, records show.

Police surveillance identified Burkhard’s car at the restaurant and confirmed he was driving, and he was apprehended outside the nearby motel.

Attempted enticement of a minor carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison, while attempted travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Both men are due to be arraigned Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.