Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Pender County man charged with indecent liberties with a child

PENDER COUNTY — A Pender County man was arrested Dec. 13 after a joint investigation among multiple law enforcement agencies revealed he was engaged in sexual online conversations with a New York teen.

23-year-old Austen Andrew Gouge was charged with one count of indecent liberties with a child. Pender County Sheriff’s Office, the Monroe County New York Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Regional Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation collaborated on the investigation.

It determined Gouge pursued a 15-year old New York resident, with pictures, videos and sexual conversations exchanged over several months. More charges are expected, according to the Pender County Sheriff’s Office.

Gouge was arrested and given a $25,000.00 secured bond, He is being held in the Pender County Jail, with his first court appearance scheduled for Dec. 14.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone from the public to share information relevant to the case by calling Detective-Sergeant Steve Clinard at 910-259-1515.

“The Pender County Sheriff’s Office continues to stress the importance of monitoring your child’s access to the internet and social media apps,” a release noted. “Several social media apps are used by child predators to engage minors and parents need to take stringent measures to ensure their child’s on-line safety.”

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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