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April 26, 2007
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N.Y. police, Miss America collaborate in sex sting

The Associated Press

SHIRLEY, N.Y. — Seven people surrendered to authorities Wednesday after an undercover sex sting operation that involved Miss America.

The beauty queen, Lauren Nelson, of Lawton, Okla., worked with police in Suffolk County to target would-be sexual predators. Officers with the county's computer crimes unit created an online profile of a 14-year-old girl that included photographs of Nelson taken when she was a teenager.

Four men who chatted with Nelson online and then showed up at a home were arrested Friday, police said. Seven more, who engaged in sexually explicit chat and sent pornographic pictures but did not go to the home, surrendered Wednesday, police said.

All face charges of attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors.

Nelson, whose platform issue is Internet safety for children, said she was eager to participate in the sting and draw attention to the dangers of the Internet.

Nelson, 20, said the men in the chat rooms would send her instant messages asking her how old she was and where she lived. Nelson would then arrange to meet the men at a home in Long Island, where police and camera crews were waiting.

"The story was that they knew I was 14, and I told them I was cutting school to meet with them," Nelson said. "I stood outside on the porch, and I would say hi to them and wave them inside."

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