Indiana Amish Man Charged in Sexting a 12-Year-Old After Driving Horse and Buggy to Police Sting

Suspect pulls up into police sting in a horse and buggy.

June 21, 2011 -- An Amish man from Milford, Ind., who pulled into a police sting operation in a horse and buggy has been charged with soliciting a 12-year-old girl via sexting.

Willard Yoder, 21, allegedly sent more than 600 text, picture and video messages to the local girl that he didn't know, including solicitations for sex and naked images of himself.

She is not Amish.

"[Yoder] told me several times that he just randomly chose that [telephone] number," Det. Craig Pennington of the Connersville Police Department said. "He just punched a number, hoping for a reply. If that is true, that's kind of scary because I'm sure that's not the first time that ever happened."

Alarmed by the disturbing messages, the girl told her mother, who later informed the police.

The Connersville Police Department set up a sting operation at a local restaurant in Milford Wednesday, with an undercover cop posing as the girl. According to police reports, Yoder sent five messages intended for the victim asking, "Are you ready for tonight?"

He pulled up to the sting in a basic, black, two-person horse and buggy.

"I could hear it coming. It's a distinctive sound," Pennington said. "It was the only horse and buggy on the road at that point."

Once police confirmed via exchanged text messages that Yoder was the alleged perpetrator, they arrested him, securing his cellphone and his horse and buggy.

"It was a shock. We have plenty years of experience on the scene and we had never seen anything like that," Pennington said.

Yoder admitted to sending all the messages to the child via his cellphone and was charged with four counts of soliciting a minor, police said.

While the victim's family seemed relieved after the arrest, the child's father, who asked for anonymity, was outraged by the initial messages.

"When the pictures started coming in, and they got more graphic, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is unbelievable," he told ABC's Indiana affiliate, WRTV6.

Milford residents told the station they are accustomed to seeing Amish people with cellphones, even though their community usually shuns technology.

Incidents involving sexual assault have popped up among the Amish in recent years.

Indiana saw an earlier case of alleged sex abuse in 2008 when an Amish man was charged with five felony counts of incest and child molestation.

In 2004, Mary Byler, who was allegedly raped repeatedly by her brothers, stunned the Amish community in Wisconsin by seeking legal action from authorities from the outside world.

Yoder posted bond Thursday of $5,000 per charge. A preliminary trial date was set for Sept. 19.