Bail was set at $1 million Thursday for a Naperville man accused of attempting to meet underage girls through the Internet for sexual encounters, officials said.
Eric Hakala, 37, of the 1100 block of Iroquois Avenue, appeared in court Thursday morning in front of Judge Anthony Coco, who set the bail. Hakala is accused of maintaining a fake Facebook account to solicit minors for sexual encounters, according to a news release from the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office.
Investigators from three police departments and the U.S. Marshals Service identified the account, which was under a 15-year-old boy named Mike Evans.
"It is further alleged Hakala used this account to have sexual conversations with and send sexually explicit photographs to underage girls," the news release said. "The investigation also revealed that Hakala allegedly possessed more than 100 images and videos of child pornography."
Authorities on Oct. 8 arrested Hakala outside his home on an unrelated outstanding warrant that had been issued against him. He was charged with the following:
- 10 counts of possession of child pornography — class 2 felony
- Two counts of indecent solicitation of a child — class 3 felony
- Two counts of grooming — class 4 felony
- One count of possession of harmful material — class 4 felony
If convicted, Hakala faces up to seven years in prison for each class 2 felony, according to sentencing guidelines in the current state statute. He also faces up to five years for each class 3 felony and up to three years for each class 4 felony.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin thanked the Naperville, Oswego and Batavia police departments, the U.S. Marshals Service and Assistant State's Attorney Kirsten King for their work on this case.
"With access available through cell phones, tablets and laptop computers, the Internet has become a part of the everyday lives of millions of people," Berlin said in the release. "Unfortunately, the Internet has also become a virtual electronic playground where sexual predators can hide behind the anonymity it provides.
"I encourage parents to talk to their children about Internet safety and to instruct their children to be cautious when dealing with people on social networking sites. Remind your children that people may not always be who they say they are, as is alleged in this case."
Hakala’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 18 in front of Judge Blanche Hill Fawell for arraignment.
Members of the public are reminded that these complaints contain only charges and are not proof of the defendant’s guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.