A 43-year-old Fresno man who went by the online name of “Sugar Daddy” pleaded no contest Friday in Fresno Superior Court to a felony charge of sexting, or engaging in illicit communication with a minor in order to commit lewd conduct.
Under a plea agreement, Hugo Rabson will get credit for time served in jail and be released on probation when he is sentenced Nov. 7, said Fresno defense lawyer Mark Broughton, who represents Rabson.
Rabson will also have to register as a sex offender for life.
Rabson’s case was widely circulated on social media because the victim’s father, posing as his 14-year-old daughter, told Rabson to meet him at a park in March 2017. The father videotaped the confrontation and posted it on Facebook.
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Police confiscated Rabson’s cell phone as evidence, but didn’t arrest him until April 18 this year, court records say.
Court records say Rabson connected with the 14-year-old in March 2017 on a social media app known as Whisper. The girl told detectives that Rabson offered to give her a cellphone so she could keep in touch with a friend who was depressed. Her initial conversations with him were routine but quickly turned sexual.
Prosecutors contend Rabson asked the girl to send him explicit photos. She told detectives she didn’t voluntarily send him photos, but admits that someone she met at a party took explicit photos of her and sent them to Rabson.
Soon, Rabson’s conversations with her intensified. He asked for more photos and videos, even suggesting that she move in with him when she turns 18.
His scheme unraveled when the girl’s father, Todd Thomas of Clovis, found the phone on March 25, 2017. He questioned her about it and found the explicit messages sent by Rabson, who used the names “Sugar Daddy” and “Master.”
Thomas took matters into his own hands. Posing as his daughter, he arranged a meeting with Rabson at a Clovis park on Ashlan Avenue. At the park Thomas confronted Rabson, who denied knowing the 14-year-old.
Shortly afterward, a Clovis police officer detained Rabson and his iPhone was taken as evidence. Detectives later got a search warrant for Rabson’s phone and unlocked a trove of messages, ranging from the benign to highly sexual.
In one message, Rabson told the 14-year-old , “I care for you as a father figure ... that is why I want you to call me Daddy,” according to court records.
On Friday, Broughton said Rabson initially believed the victim was 18 years old. In pleading no contest, Rabson acknowledged his wrongdoing and took the plea deal in order to avoid prison, Broughton said.