Police arrest Chandler man with molestation history The Chandler Arizonan

Police arrest Chandler man with molestation history

October 6th, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Police arrest Chandler man with molestation history
City News

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

A Chandler man with a history of molesting and exploiting young women is facing more felony charges after authorities uncovered evidence suggesting there may be more girls who have fallen victim to his alleged schemes.

Devon Sharma, 26, was awaiting this month on sex trafficking charges when Chandler Police filed additional charges, accusing the defendant of harassing and victimizing more women over the internet.

On Feb. 29, Sharma allegedly began corresponding with a 15-year-old girl in Utah and soliciting her for nude images.

The suspect allegedly disguised himself as women from modeling agencies on social media accounts, police reports say, in order to gain the trust of unsuspecting teenage girls.

On March 2 – two days after Sharma allegedly started contacting the Utah girl – the suspect signed a plea agreement for similar criminal charges filed by Chandler Police in 2018.

A county grand jury had indicted Sharma with sex trafficking, sexual assault, fraud, and computer tampering for offenses committed against a woman between 2013 and 2016.

Some offenses were high-level felonies that carried lengthy prison terms lasting as long as 10 years. But the County Attorney offered Sharma a plea deal that would have guaranteed a much lighter penalty.

According to the deal signed by Sharma in March, the defendant agreed to plead guilty to sex trafficking and attempted sexual assault in exchange for a six-month jail sentence and lifetime supervised probation. He would also have to register as a sex offender.

It’s not clear whether prosecutors may attempt to rescind Sharma’s plea deal after reviewing the latest criminal charges. The County Attorney did not immediately respond to questions about his status.

Sharma has been the subject of criminal investigations since he was a teenager attending Mesquite High School in Gilbert.

Court records show Sharma was disciplined by school administrators in 2011 after he allegedly sent sexually-explicit messages to his female classmates.

He asked to interview girls about their sex lives and “dirty” thoughts for a book project. Gilbert Police later discovered a manuscript Sharma titled “The Book of Love,” which he said was “meant to help other teenagers discuss sex and related topics,” police said.

A few months later, four teenage girls told authorities Sharma massaged and groped them in one of their school’s locker rooms.

The girls claimed Sharma told them he was studying to become a massage therapist and asked to practice his skills.

One girl said Sharma asked her to remove her pants so he could massage her back and legs. Another girl alleged Sharma unhooked her bra and massaged her breasts before she fled the locker room, court records show.

Sharma, then 18, was charged with multiple felony counts of child molestation and sexual abuse and faced a lengthy prison term because of the victims’ ages.

Sharma later pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of aggravated assault and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Before his sentencing, the defendant’s family and friends tried convincing the court Sharma was a well-behaved, caring person who made a mistake that was out of character.

They told the judge about Sharma’s excellent academic record, volunteerism and struggles overcoming his diagnosed mental illness.

Sharma had just been accepted into an internship program at Intel, his family told the court, and was excelling in all his courses at Arizona State University.

Court officials found Sharma’s actions at Mesquite High disturbing, yet recommended he only get probation due to his young age and positive character.      

“Although the offense itself is quite concerning,” probation officers wrote before Sharma’s sentencing, “the defendant is a medium-low risk and his lack of prior criminal history suggests he is an appropriate candidate for probation supervision.”

One year into his probation term, Sharma’s officer asked the court to terminate his probation early because of his low risk to reoffend and high level of compliance. The court concluded Sharma’s probation in June 2015.

One year later, Sharma was accused of extortion, sex trafficking, and fraud.

Sharma’s most recent criminal case involves 20 felony charges of sex trafficking, identity theft, pandering, unlawful distribution of images, and luring a minor for exploitation.

One victim in the recent case claims Sharma never paid her the money he promised if she sent him nude images. The girl further accused Sharma of threatening to post her pictures online if she didn’t continue sending him pornographic content, according to police reports.

Chandler Police believe there may be more women who have been exploited by Sharma. Anyone with information on the defendant can call 480-782-4402.

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