Mom Denied Bail In Child Sex Case

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CBS/iStockphoto
A mother accused of trying to prostitute her young daughters cried in court Tuesday as a magistrate ordered that she be held without bond.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Stein Nowak concluded that 25-year-old Jennifer Richards, who moved to San Antonio from Phoenix nine months ago, was a flight risk and is likely to be convicted.

"It's about as dangerous as it can get when a mother sets up her own child for this," said Nowak in finding that Richards should remain in custody.

The waitress with shoulder-length blond hair sat with her shoulders hunched and began to cry.

Richards is charged with using interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor, a charge that carries as many as five years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Braun said other charges could be added.

Clare Koontz, Richards' attorney, said the Internet exchanges about child pornography and sexual assault were just chat room discussions.

"All of this is fantasy. It was chat room stuff," Koontz said in court. "This was a fantasy response to Mr. Block, not actual conduct."

FBI agent Rex Miller testified that Richards offered to allow her 5-year-old daughter to be molested in exchange for a car, an apartment and money for day care for her 10-month-old daughter. Richards also planned to use the baby for child pornography when she got older, the agent said.

An FBI agent said Richards acknowledged furthering the scheme, reports CBS affiliate KENS-TV in San Antonio: taking her daughters to an area Chili's restaurant to meet the informant; accepting $300 as a sort of down payment in advance of sex with the kids; and texting pictures of the kids with the pitch, "I hope you like them." Richards was taken into custody a short time later.

According to court records and testimony, it was Block, 40, who approached the paid informant, but FBI Special Agent Rex Miller testified Tuesday that Richards months before began speaking of her interest involving her daughter in sex and finding ways to hide the prospective abuse from authorities, reports KENS-TV.

Authorities say neither girl was sold for sex and are no longer in Richards' custody.

He said Internet chat logs also recorded her and her boyfriend, 40-year-old Sean Michael Block, making plans to use the girls to create child pornography. Block, who allegedly offered the girl to the informant through a text message, was ordered held without bond Friday; he faces a charge of distribution of child pornography.

Miller also described chat logs in which Richards and Block allegedly talked about luring a teenage girl from a bus station or night club to sexually assault her and cut her face.

"Many of the stories were instigated by Ms. Richards," Miller said.