IDAHO FALLS – An Ashton man charged with felony enticing a child through the internet was arraigned in District Court Monday.
Dacoda Kent Phelps, 27, appeared before District Judge Michael Whyte, where court records indicate he pleaded not guilty.
Phelps was arrested and released in January after posting $20,000 bond.
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An undercover officer working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force came across Phelps on Nov. 30 while posing as a 14-year-old boy on the Grindr dating app, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Phelps allegedly sent the officer five sexually explicit photos of himself in his initial message.
The officer responded that he wasn’t 18 yet but that “he was really mature for his age.” Phelps then inquired how old he was and learning he was 14, sent a photo of himself with an invitation to message on Snapchat.
The conversation continued on Snapchat with Phelps allegedly asking the officer if he wanted to trade any pictures. Phelps told him he worked as an underground miner drilling and blasting hard rock.
“This was followed by a shirtless photo of Phelps in a miner’s helmet. There were other photos, including one of him holding a large wrench,” the officer writes in his report. “Phelps asked me again for photos of myself saying that he wanted to see my body.”
Phelps allegedly became more explicit in his requests, to which the officer did not respond.
Upon further investigation, the officer discovered Phelps had a misdemeanor warrant from Nez Perce County on a DUI charge. He also had a warrant in Fremont County for failure to appear at a hearing for DUI, possession of a controlled substance and distribution of alcohol to a minor.
He was able to track down Phelp’s address through a license plate number on a vehicle he is known to drive.
The officer, posing as a teenager, reached out to Phelps again on Dec. 8 through Grindr. A few hours later, Phelps responded by asking for selfies.
“I told him I’m too scared, too young to send nudes,” the officer reported.
Phelps responded the following day with the words, “Yeah i think it’ll be okay if we delete them right after.”
Phelps’s charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. A pre-trial conference is set for July 11. His jury trial is scheduled for September 13.
Although Phelps is accused of a crime, it does not necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.