Bedford County trial begins for former Liberty University professor accused of child solicitation

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)-- A former Liberty University professor is on trial in Bedford County. Stephen Kilpatrick is facing three counts of computer solicitation of a minor and three counts of indecent liberties with a minor.

It was November of 2017 when Kilpatrick, who was a mathematics professor at LU at the time, responded to an advertisement posted on Craigslist that read, "hey guys...I'm really bored,” stating that the person was new to the area and asked, “any suggestions?”

According to testimony heard in Bedford County Circuit Court Tuesday, Kilpatrick responded to the ad using a different name and sexually explicit language.

The sexually explicit messages would continue between the two people for months, without Kilpatrick knowing that the person writing to him was an undercover investigator for the sheriff’s office with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

Throughout the course of the conversations, Investigator JM Wade told Kilpatrick he was a 13-year-old girl named Jenny. In the messages, read aloud in court Tuesday, Kilpatrick asked about Jenny's clothing, underwear, and talked about sexual acts.

The messages ended after seven months, in June of 2018, when investigators planned a “take-down operation.”

According to search warrants, Kilpatrick stopped in Forest at a, “Walmart to purchase cookies for the 13-year-old female child he planned to meet." Officers intercepted the meeting and arrested and charged Kilpatrick.

In court Tuesday, Kilpatrick's defense team argued that he was "entrapped". Matthew Pack, Kilpatrick’s defense attorney, stated that he did not have a criminal background or history of soliciting children and argued that officers were inviting someone to commit a crime.

Pack said that Investigator Wade broke two Craigslist policies by using the site as someone who was supposed to be under the age of 18 and by posting false or misleading information.

Jurors only heard one out of the 12 potential witnesses testify on Tuesday. The testimony took longer than anticipated when the defense team asked that jurors hear the entire hour long recording from Kilpatrick’s interrogation interview that took place when he was arrested in June of 2018.