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Police: Man traveled to Rome for sex with a minor

December 18, 2019–11:30 p.m.


A Birmingham man was arrested Wednesday night by detectives after he traveled to Rome for the purpose of having sex with a teen and then flying her away to Oregon.

Gerry Pugh, 55, has a Birmingham, Alabama address but he works in Portland, Oregon at an electric company. He drove to Floyd County from Alabama Wednesday after chatting for more than a week with Sgt. Misty Pledger, who he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

Their messages were sexually charged and included plans to have sex at a local motel.

Police arrested the man in a vehicle owned by a family member, and found him in possession of cocaine and a firearm. In addition to the obscene conversation, he also discussed taking his teen acquaintance back to the West Coast.

Pugh was booked at the Floyd County Jail on charges of electronic enticement of a child, obscene internet contact with a child, sexual exploitation of a minor, criminal attempt of child molestation, possession of controlled substance and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The police department encourages parents to be vigilant in monitoring their children’s online activity and searching electronic devices. Texting is no longer the only option for communication for children, who are increasingly exposed to more messaging options through social media and chat applications. Even if a mobile device is disconnected from a service provider, messaging
can still be accessed through wifi and hotspots.

Parents should be aware of mobile applications and knowledgeable of how their children present themselves online.