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Infoseek exec nabbed in sex scandal
Executive VP Patrick Naughton arrested for allegedly using chat and e-mail to solicit undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl.

Patrick Naughton story By Patrick Houston, ZDNet News
September 18, 1999 6:45 PM PT

Updated Monday, Sept. 20, 3:49 PM PT

A top executive for one of the Web's biggest sites has been arrested by FBI agents on federal charges for allegedly crossing states lines to solicit sex from a minor.

Patrick Naughton, 34, an executive vice president of Infoseek Corp. and Disney's GO Network, was apprehended late Thursday night in Santa Monica, Calif., after he had arranged to meet a teenage girl who actually turned out to be the creation of an FBI special agent, according to a 17-page criminal complaint and affidavit released by the FBI Saturday.

The affidavit describes, in often lurid detail, about a dozen Internet chats, e-mails and phone conversations over a seven-month period in which Naughton allegedly tried to meet the girl for the purpose of having sex, even after repeatedly being told her age was 13.

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Naughton, who resides in Seattle, also engaged in similar chats with a second undercover agent, the FBI filing said.

The document, written by FBI Special Agent Bruce Applin, concludes by saying that Naughton admitted to chatting on numerous occasions with the undercover agents and agreed to a search of his laptop, which contained sexually explicit pictures of children.

Inter-agency operation
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, said Naughton was formally charged with interstate travel with the intention of having sex with a minor. If convicted, Naughton could face up to 15 years in prison under those charges. He was arrested on Friday and released after posting a $100,000 appearance bond. He faces arraignment Oct. 12.

Naughton colleagues and associates -- in and outside of Infoseek -- expressed bewilderment. "He's a very good person, very smart and he loves his wife," said Cheray Unman, the head of a small San Francisco venture capital firm who knows Naughton personally. "I'm horrified -- there's got to be another side."

Disney and Infoseek both issued formal reactions to the incident Monday, with Infoseek saying that it was "shocked and disturbed" and that Naughton was no longer an employee. The company removed Naughton's bio from its Web site late Saturday.

For its part, Disney distanced itself from Naughton, stressing that he was an employee of Infoseek and that he had no direct operational control over any Disney site. (See "Disney: Naughton not our employee") Disney operates the GO Network, an umbrella portal that encompasses, and Disney Online. Disney Online is the No. 1 most visited site among children and their families on the Internet, according to July statistics from Web market research firm Media Metrix

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Disney owns 43 percent of Infoseek (Nasdaq:SEEK). In July, it announced it would acquire the remainder of the five-year-old portal company in a deal that is scheduled to close before year end.

According to SEC documents filed for the fiscal year ending Oct. 3 last year, Naughton was one of Infoseek's most highly compensated executives. In addition to a salary of $183,167, he owned, through options, more than 535,000 shares of the company, an amount worth more than $15 million at the stock's $28.75 closing price Friday.

By mid-afternoon Monday, Infoseek shares were down nearly 4 percent on the day to $27.69.

Laura Bosley, a spokesperson for the FBI's Los Angeles bureau, said the arrest resulted from the coordinated efforts of federal and local law enforcement authorities working together as part of a Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement -- or SAFE -- Team.

FBI Agent Applin's affidavit details more than a dozen encounters. They began on March 8 after Applin logged into an Internet Relay Chat Channel using a female screen name.

"At 3:39 p.m. I received a private message from an individual using the screen name hotseattle. I described myself as a 13-year-old girl from Los Angeles...During the conversation hotseattle said he was interested in meeting in Los Angeles 'sometime' to 'kiss, make out, and play and stuff...'"

Explicit exchanges
Applin also describes far more explicit exchanges as part of the chat, which ended more than four hours later.

Other encounters described by the FBI include:

A May 14 chat in which hotseattle provided the undercover agent with the address of a Forbes magazine Web site in which he'd been cited, a Seattle telephone number and an e-mail address. "Hotseattle said that he had a digital camera that he could use to make 'any' type of picture I liked."

A May 21 chat in which hotseattle said he loved 13-year-old girls. "Hotseattle told me he wanted to get me alone in his hotel room and have me strip naked for him."

An Aug. 5 IRC chat in which hotseattle suggested the undercover agent skip school for a day to be with him.

An Aug. 27 chat in which hotseattle admitted to confusing the undercover agent with another girl - who, it turned out, was using the screen name of a second FBI undercover agent. In this exchange, hotseattle also provided a Web site address containing a picture of male genitalia he claimed were his own, along with a picture of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy at 13 -- transmitted to hotseattle by the second FBI agent.

A Sept. 16 chat in which someone using the name sfmate attempted to set up a meeting with agent. At the time, sfmate said he also used the screen name hotseattle.

The affidavit also describes two phone calls from the LA County deputy to a number provided by hotseattle to a second undercover agent. The number led to an extension for Patrick Naughton of Infoseek.

FBI agents arrested Naughton as he approached the LA County deputy at the Santa Monica pier -- as had been arranged with hotseattle.

Disney (NYSE:DIS) named Naughton executive vice president responsible for content and technology for GO Networks in January.

Sound off here!!

Post your comment
on this story.

He joined Infoseek, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., after having established a bio that positioned him as something of an industry wunderkind.

He joined Sun Microsystems Inc. in 1988, and made his mark as part of the team that created what is now the widespread Java programming language. In 1994, he moved to Starwave, the Seattle-based Web development services company, where he served as president and chief technology officer.

Reuters contributed to this report

See also: eCrime, Law & You section

I am glad that the web sites ar... - Nikki
It would appear that Disney, a ... - Alberta Carter
It's nice to see that people on... - Jason
Naughton's bio is already gone ... - Mario Lanza
I think any sick perverted pers... - Dwane A. Bowling
Shouldn't the FBI be using reso... - Debris
Ok, they got him for trying to ... - Richard Wm. Erickson
I applaud the work of the FBI i... - David Johnson
Isn't this Entrapment and imper... - Jeff
After recent revelations about ... - Marc V. Ridenour
Nikki - "Everything is justifie... - William Leary
This is another reminder that P... - G. Frederick
This is just the tip of the pro... - Morgan Wright
I agree this guy is a creep an... - James Howard
What puzzels me is that a man o... - Barry McClain
Hooray, Hooray, for the F.B.I. ... - Jodi Meadows
Chalk one up for the FBI. Keep ... - MB
First off, I am glad they caugh... - Heath Sprinkle
Disney Online's Patrick J. Naug... - Mrs. Fran Schmermer
Two comments: The FBI did not p... - Children's Protection & Advocacy Coalition
Entrapment, impersonation, yes ... - Buck
HIS BIO IS GONE! Apparently ... - Stony
Hopefully, he'll get what he de... - Jen
RE: Isn't this Entrapment? ... - Carlotta Rossi
When a captain of the Internet ... - Gunthar Manusson
I really don't understand what ... - Max
A. Its not entrapment. B. Post... - Steve
I am a Javascript programmer, a... - Peter Stanford
These supposed "geniuses" are s... - John Ashby
this clown wiil get away with i... - angel
To the FBI: Good job. Don't l... - Byron Guyer
Bravo, G-men & G-women; As the ... - Daniel Killough
If this isn't entrapment, what ... - Vic Snow
I'm sorry this is just entrapme... - william turner
I find his actions disgusting. ... - Bill Murray
This was obviously consentual, ... - James R. Jones
As the father of girls, I appla... - Mike Gerkovich
Absolutely, Jeff, this poor man... - Lee Rivers
I think that the FBI went about... - Beth
I'm sorry but this is simple e... - william turner
I think, unfortunately, that th... - Padma Rabzang
Officers did GREAT; Disneys'Evi... - jim gordon
I disagree with one poster's co... - Gregory H
One of most interesting things ... - Michael
What a loser. Heopfully, these... - Darkstar
Surprised anyone?? Welcome to ... - BRAD SAYERS
Entrapment, Entrapment, Entrapm... - Jason Ebery
He's now charged with *trying t... - Arthur Scribbler
Is anybody surprised?? Since M... - Mike A
Here we have the man responsibl... - C. Christian
Walt Disney, that wholesome cre... - Alan Bailey
This story really hits home wit... - jb
Patrick Naughton is a brilliant... - Robert Gisborn
One has to wonder how Disney an... - james leclaire
Disney World, what a living bai... - John Nance
So, what's new ? After Walt pa... - RICHARD A. YOUNG
If the state intends to prove h... - Patrick Dewey
Who can you trust. Just thankfu... - Pieter Ciere
Obviously consentual? Are you o... - Shawna Walls
This is both sad, and incredibl... - Nick Danger
This just adds to the stereotyp... - J.T. Crawley
Thank you, FBI, for going after... - Pete
ABC News?- No News! It’s int... - Colin Walsh
Entrapment?!?!? Are you all di... - Cory Pannell
Is anybody surprised?? Since M... - Mike A
Disney and GO can't be held res... - Chrissy
I dont see how Disney could be ... - Rob Rab
STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!!! Ho... - Dan Von
Uuhh, no this isn't entrapment.... - Bobby Yettman
Innocent until proven guilty.... - Robert Lail
What crime did he commit having... - Jeff
What crime did he commit having... - Jeff
Hey FBI, Great work! do it more... - Richard Hill
While I do not condone illegal ... - Bob Alden
This is what you get if you sup... - Manuel
Disney will certianly defend th... - Mr. Mugave
I'm curious to find out how of ... - Reinhold Messner
I agree that children are explo... - ADam Leite
This was NOT entrapment. The FB... - Joyce Farrell
Big Deal...Shouldn't the FBI be... - DK
To ALBERTA CARTER... Disney enc... - Roger Simmons
A couple of quick points: ... - Dave
How is this not entrapment. I'm... - Mark
Mrs. Fran Schmermer - say what?... - Arbarkulous Maalb
**IMPORTANT EDITORS NOTE - P... - Tammy Cavadias - ZDNN Talkback Sysop

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