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Slated Habitat homeowner charged

A 45-year-old River Falls man who was scheduled to move into a house in Hudson built by Habitat for Humanity has been charged in Sarasota County, Fla., with an attempt to solicit sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Brian D. Hanson was arraigned Dec. 15 in Florida on the felony charge of solicitation of a lewd and lascivious act with a child under the age of 16. He remains free on $10,000 bail.

According to court records, Hanson was arrested last September after engaging in Internet chat room communications over a period of 11 months with Sarasota County investigators posing as a 14-year-old.

The probable cause affidavit says Hanson first contacted a Florida detective who was using the nickname of lori14 on Sept. 29, 2005. Hanson allegedly gave the detective his e-mail address and said he wanted to stay in touch.

In subsequent communications, Hanson, who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, allegedly said he wanted to "kiss" and "cuddle" with "Lori," and that if he had sex with her he would be in heaven.

The sexual acts Hanson is alleged in the affidavit to have solicited became progressively more explicit and lascivious. The affidavit says Hanson told the detectives posing as "Lori" that he wanted to meet her in real life and offered to pay for her to come to Wisconsin.

A warrant was issued for Hanson's arrest after a River Falls detective went to his apartment on August 28, 2006, while he was "chatting" with a Florida detective. The affidavit says there was a break in the conversation with the Florida detective at the same time that Hanson was talking to the River Falls officer, and that he told "Lori" that he had been answering the door when he returned to his computer.

Florida authorities accused Hanson of soliciting "Lori" for sex on four occasions and said the Florida detectives had clearly represented her as being a 14-year-old girl. He initially was charged with four felony counts of solicitation of a minor. Three of the counts have been dismissed.

The St. Croix Valley affiliate of Habitat for Humanity had scheduled the dedication of the new house on Amherst Circle built for Hanson for Sunday, Jan. 7.

But the Monday following Hanson's arraignment, the board of directors for the local Habitat affiliate decided to hold in abeyance Hanson's occupancy of the residence until the Florida case is decided.

Meanwhile, the owners of the River Falls Terrace Apartments have filed a small claims action in Pierce County seeking his eviction for breaking an anti-criminal behavior addendum to his lease.

Peter Stacy, a spokesman for St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, said Hanson's alleged criminal activity didn't come to light until after he had been selected to purchase a Habitat house.

He said the organization is sensitive to the community's need for safety and security and added, "But we also have to be sensitive that Mr. Hanson has not been convicted of a crime at this point."

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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