Canadian County sheriff's deputies arrested a Mustang newspaper editor Friday for sex crimes against children. Jonathan Watje, 34, is accused of sparking an online relationship with an underage girl, but it was really an undercover Canadian County deputy all along.
About two weeks ago, one of Canadian County's many decoy social media profiles got a new friend. Sheriff Chris West says the man initiated sexual conversations with who he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Last Thursday the relationship went a step further when the man sent a sexually explicit video of himself. “It ended up being an editor from a local newspaper that we’ve done business with for many years and has been very supportive,” says West, “and in fact runs a jail blotter in the newspaper of a lot of the arrests that we make.”
The Canadian County ICAC team is well-known for their aggressive approach to catching child predators, but they never thought they would catch someone they know. “When I received the telephone call on Thursday and informed who it was, I was surprised,” says West.
Watje had been working for the Mustang Times for ten years, but was fired as soon as the paper's publishers learned of the investigation. Co-publisher Steve Coulter said in an article, "We are shocked about this and will not tolerate this type of behavior. We completely support the sheriff’s department and their efforts to investigate online child sex crimes."
West says Watje admitted to everything after his arrest, and even though the editor has no criminal history, West says in his experience child predators are usually repeat offenders. “The level, or the magnitude, that some of these predators are operating at, you have no doubt that this isn’t their first time, and it really makes you wonder about the victims that they have left behind,” says West.
Watje is charged with two counts of lewd acts with a child. If he is found guilty, he faces up to 50 years in prison and will be labeled a sex offender for life.