Former Mayor of Collins, Mo. Faces Trial in Internet Sting

A former small town Missouri mayor and pastor can go to trial over allegations he made sexual advances in an Internet chat room to a detective posing as a 13-year-old girl, a judge ruled Monday.

Allen Kauffman's lawyer said the 62-year-old expects to plead not guilty at an arraignment set for April 14. A judge decided Monday after a preliminary hearing that prosecutors had presented enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Kauffman resigned as mayor of Collins, a town of about 200 people in western Missouri, after the charges were filed in January. Kauffman, who is married, also resigned as pastor of the Temple Lot Church in Collins.

Prosecutors alleged in court filings that Kauffman believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl named Cindy from the Joplin area in a Yahoo chat room in November and December.

In the online messages, Kauffman allegedly asked the girl to send him nude pictures and encouraged her to have sex with a girlfriend in front of a Web cam so that Kauffman could watch.

Murray, 69, is a retired police chief from the southwest Missouri town of Diamond who has made a specialty of posing as a young girl in chat rooms in order to prosecute alleged adult predators. This case is his 20th since 2002.

Kauffman faces three counts of felony enticement of a child. During the hearing Monday, one count was dropped because of an apparent error in the date given for one set of alleged sexual comments.

Child enticement carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum 30 years under Missouri law.