A Victorian man will face court on Friday charged with 14 offences relating to the alleged grooming of underage girls from the Illawarra and South Coast.
In May this year, detectives from Lake Illawarra Police District commenced an investigation after reports were made to police about a man purchasing gifts for young girls in exchange for explicit photographs.
Following an investigation, Illawarra detectives travelled to a home in Leopold, near Geelong, and arrested a 56-year-old man on Thursday.
During a subsequent search warrant, investigators seized hard drives, computers and mobile phones. These items will undergo forensic examination.
Police will allege in court that between November 2019 and May 2020, the man communicated with several girls - aged 13 and 14 - via social media, and requested explicit photographs.
The man also allegedly sent inappropriate images and videos to the girls, and travelled to Wollongong to meet two of them and buy them gifts.
None of the girls were physically harmed as a result of the incident.
The man was taken to Geelong Police Station, where he was charged with using a carriage service to: prepare or plan to cause harm to engage in sexual activity with, or procure for sexual activity, persons under 16 years of age (Carly's Law); groom and procure a child under 16 years for sexual activity; transmit indecent communication to person under 16 years (x2); menace, harass or cause offence; groom person under 16 years (x2).
He was also charged with using a carriage service for child abuse material (x2), using a postal or similar service to groom persons under 16 (x2), and to procure persons under 16 (x3).
The man was refused bail and is due to appear in Geelong Magistrates Court on Friday.
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.