|Steve D. Lowe|
By Karen Madden
A former Wisconsin Rapids police lieutenant who was arrested this week is accused of impersonating a teenage girl online in an attempt to get underage boys to send him nude pictures of themselves, according to court documents.
On Thursday, a judge set a $20,000 cash bond for Steve D. Lowe, 41, who resigned after his Wednesday arrest on potential charges of child enticement, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child exploitation, authorities said.
Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles, Lowe made his bond appearance in person Thursday in Wood County Branch 2. Sauk County Judge Patrick Taggart and Sauk County Assistant District Attorney Linda A. Hoffman both appeared by telephone.
The possible charges carry significant penalties, Hoffman said, in arguing for a high cash bond. She also cited Lowe’s position with the Police Department.
If Lowe is found guilty of the three potential charges, he faces a maximum of 77½ years in prison, according to court documents.
While in court, Lowe said he resigned his position with the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department, he wasn’t hiding, he voluntarily talked to authorities, and he has ties to Wisconsin Rapids.
“I understand I have to go though the court system,” Lowe said.
On Thursday afternoon, Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief Kurt Heuer issued a news release confirming Lowe had resigned.
Taggart ordered the $20,000 cash bond, which included conditions that Lowe have no unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.
Lowe told the judge he understood why the condition was put on the bail.
According to court documents in the case, Lowe pretended to be a 15-year-old girl named Abby. He told authorities he began using the online profile about a year ago.
Lowe used photographs of a young-looking girl he found online as his profile picture. He then sought out conversations with people claiming to be teenage boys, asking them to send naked pictures of themselves, according to the court document.
A special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, got a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an online conversation between two supposedly underage children, one boy and one girl. The agent tracked the boy’s computer to the United Kingdom and the “girl’s” computer to Wisconsin Rapids.
In the conversation, the girl asked the boy to send nude pictures of himself and to be sure to put one or both of his arms above his head to show his armpits, according to the court documents.
Lowe admitted he gets sexual gratification from images of teenage boys and specifically images that involve their armpits, according to the court document.
As part of the investigation, the agent determined the girl was actually Lowe, according to the court document. The Division of Criminal Investigation served a search warrant on Lowe’s residence Wednesday afternoon. During the time authorities were at the house, a special agent had several phone conversations with Lowe.
When the special agent asked Lowe about the security of his Internet, the former lieutenant said the agent didn’t need to concern himself with the neighbors, according to the court documents. Lowe said he was responsible for anything related to the investigation and items discovered on the computers inside his residence.
During one of the phone conversations with the agent, Lowe said he needs help, according to the court documents.
Heuer said he could not comment on the case.