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Man gets probation for attempted sex with St. Helens teen

14-year-old girl said man lied about identity and tried to get her alone following online conversations

COURTNEY VAUGHN - MD Shahidul Islam, 26, stands next to his attorney, Yunus Paisner, in a Columbia County courtroom Tuesday during his sentencing hearing. Islam was ordered to comply with probation or face prison time.

A man who responded to a teen girl's Craigslist ad for a gay best friend was sentenced to three years probation Tuesday, May 12, in Columbia County Circuit Court for online sexual corruption of a child and third-degree attempted rape.

MD Shahidul Islam, 26, pleaded guilty to both counts as part of a negotiated plea deal with the Columbia County District Attorney's Office.

Islam was arrested Jan. 10 in a St. Helens Walmart parking lot by St. Helens police, who said he drove there from his home in Beaverton with plans to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex.

The girl, whose name is being withheld, said she and three other friends posted an ad on the online classified website Craigslist last July, seeking a gay teen boy to befriend. They got two responses, the girl said. One was a guy who discontinued contact once he found out her age. The other was Islam.

“He said his name was Sam and that he was 22,” the teen said. “We were weirded out by it.”

She said Islam knew her age, but continued to communicate with her through text messages. He offered gifts and cash to the young girls. Some of them accepted the gifts, the victim said.

On July 27, the teens agreed to meet Islam at the Dairy Queen in Scappoose. The girl said she felt pressured into going. Islam arrived with $40 cash in an envelope, she said.

“He wouldn't get out of his car, which was really weird, so we walked over to his car,” she said. “He told me to get in his car, so I ran away, and told him to leave me alone. I literally ran away.”

The others stayed, taking the cash and dividing it among themselves, according to the girl.

She said she stopped talking to Islam, but eventually, her parents found out about the incident.

Her father, Jeff, said he reported it to Scappoose police, who said they lacked enough evidence to arrest Islam. Out of concerns the victim would be identified, the Spotlight is withholding the father's last name.

Aiming to prove Islam had intentions of sexual contact with a girl nearly half his age, the girl's mother used her daughter's smart phone to communicate with Islam, pretending to be the teen. She told Islam she was 13. The conversation quickly turned sexual. At some point, he indicated he was bisexual and wanted to be with a girl.

Frustrated, Jeff reached out to federal agents for help.

“I called the FBI,” Jeff said. “I didn't know where else to turn.”

FBI agents in Portland confiscated the phone in October, but kept the phone for two months without arresting Islam. By December, Jeff grew tired of waiting. He told a St. Helens police officer about the issue. The officer was eager to help, Jeff said.

“He leaves my house, two hours later, he called my house and told me Islam was in jail,” Jeff said.

Posing as the teen, St. Helens police used her phone to engage Islam and agreed to meet him at the Walmart in St. Helens. Islam was to meet with the girl for sex and give her spending money. According to prosecutors, Islam arrived in St. Helens with condoms, two iPhones and $103 cash.

He was arrested on charges of third-degree attempted rape, online sexual corruption of a child, and patronizing a prostitute. He was released early the following week after posting bail.

Islam was docile and soft spoken in court Tuesday as he stood next to his attorney and listened to Columbia County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dale Anderson recount sexually explicit text messages sent by Islam.

The District Attorney's Office agreed to drop the prostitution charge and one of two online sexual corruption charges in exchange for Islam's guilty plea.

“The what-ifs kept me up at night,” the teen said Tuesday, as she read a prepared victim impact statement. “I hear comments all the time. People think it's my fault. I take accountability. I made the post, but I'm 14 … you knew that was wrong.”

She wept as she talked of missing nearly two weeks of school during her freshman year and living in fear for her safety.

“These situations are horrible for the victims in a small town,” Columbia County Circuit Judge Cathleen Callahan said. “While they may have been playing pranks, and you may have been playing pranks, it went too far.”

Islam was ordered to register as a sex offender and undergo a sex offender evaluation. He was also ordered not to have contact with minors or consume alcohol or drugs. He is also prohibited from owning any devices with Internet access, without written consent from the court.

If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face 16 to 18 months in prison, or one year in county jail.