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Man accused of having sex with girl, 13

| Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, 12:00 p.m.

An Illinois man accused of having sex with a 13-year-old Pittsburgh girl he met on the Internet was talked into surrendering by a smooth-talking city police detective who called him on his cell phone, police said Thursday.

Police were tracking the intermittent signals emitted by the man's cell phone, first in the Hill District and then Downtown, but they couldn't pinpoint his location. So Detective Kimberly Braddick decided to call him.

"You just choose your words carefully, and I told him that if he ran it would be a bigger mess than it already is," Braddick said. "I'm glad he decided to do the right thing."

Kevin Van Gorden, 23, of Westchester, Ill., a Chicago suburb, surrendered Wednesday night at police headquarters on the North Side.

"It was good work on her part," said police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki, who oversees the city's Major Crime Unit detectives. "It's good when you can merge technology and good investigative skills and arrest a suspect."

Van Gorden met the girl in an Internet chat room about six weeks ago, and they communicated regularly before he decided to come to Pittsburgh to meet her, Stangrecki said.

The girl's parents found out about the tryst and told police, who secured a warrant for Van Gorden's arrest on charges of statutory sexual assault and corruption of a minor. That's also when they got his cell phone number and discovered the phone contained a global positioning system.

Van Gorden was staying at a motel outside of Pittsburgh when Braddick called him. He was reluctant to talk at first, the detective said.

Pittsburgh police also are working with the FBI to investigate whether Van Gorden had contact with other underage girls.

Van Gorden was awaiting arraignment last night in Pittsburgh Municipal Court.

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