Sex offender arrested in Facebook sting pleads not guilty

A 35-year-old Snohomish sex offender accused of using Facebook to arrange a meeting with an 11-year-old Elma boy for sex pleaded not guilty yesterday.

Joel R. Alexander was arrested in April after a month-long sting operation. The Level 2 sex offender was arrested outside an Elma park bathroom where he had allegedly planned to meet the boy April 14.

He was instead met by several detectives who had been communicating with him for weeks over the boy’s account.

Court records include excerpts of several graphic and sexually explicit conversations from Alexander’s Facebook account to an account belonging to the 11-year-old boy. A detective with the Washington State Patrol took over the account in March and communicated with Alexander’s account for more than a month, leading to several sexually inappropriate conversations and photos.

“Me and u can secretly be more than friends,” Alexander allegedly wrote to who he believed to be the boy.

Alexander was previously convicted in 2001 of second-degree child rape. Court records stated Alexander first contacted the Elma boy through his Facebook account earlier this year when the boy was still 10 years old. Alexander allegedly asked the boy about his age, his interests and whether he had started puberty.

The boy’s mother saw the messages and reported the conversation to the Elma Police Department. Elma authorities passed the information to the State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force.

A detective took over the boy’s account soon after and began communicating with Alexander’s account.

Alexander is charged with attempted first-degree child rape and entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in Grays Harbor Superior Court Monday. He remains in Grays Harbor County Jail on $1 million bail.