A 62-year-old Waterford man has been convicted of trying to send sexually explicit messages with the intent to commit lewd acts with a 13-year-old Modesto girl.
A jury deliberated for about an hour Friday afternoon before return with a guilty verdict for John William Birdsong, according to Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees, who prosecuted the case.
Birdsong was convicted of attempting to send harmful material to a minor with the intent to seduce the child and communicating with a minor with the intent to commit a lewd and lascivious act on a child younger than 14.
The judge scheduled the defendant to return to court Dec. 12 for his sentencing hearing. Rees said Birdsong faces a maximum sentence of nine years and six months in prison. He remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.
At the time of the incident, Birdsong was on parole for a San Joaquin County conviction for sending harmful material to a minor with the intent to seduce the child. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison for that charge, ordered to register as a sex offender and to not possess a cell phone while on parole.
The Stanislaus County investigation into Birdsong started July 9, 2012. The girl’s mother testified in the trial that she answered her daughter’s cell phone and heard a “creepy” man’s voice asking for her daughter, according to the prosecutor. The mother said in court that the man quickly became inappropriate on the phone.
The girl’s family notified Modesto police. Detective Darren Ruskamp started communicating with the man. Rees said the detective, posing as the 13-year-old girl, used his work phone to send text messages to the man later identified as Birdsong.
The prosecutor said Birdsong’s messages became sexually explicit. He sent a photo of himself and tried to arrange a meeting at a Walmart.
Modesto police obtained Birdsong’s phone records and searched his home July 16, 2012, when investigators found the phone he used to call the girl and furnishings that matched the background in the photo he sent. Rees said the messages the detective sent and Birdsong’s photo were still on the recovered phone.
The Stanislaus County district attorney’s office filed a criminal complaint against Birdsong Dec. 14, 2012, and the defendant was booked at the jail Jan. 3.