Police say feud sparked fake Craigslist orgy ad

The News Leader

April 22, 2010 10:56:34 AM PDT
A Connecticut man who was feuding with his neighbor targeted her in an explicit online posting that invited strangers to a rowdy orgy with a bored soccer mom, police said. Philip James Conran, 42, made his first court appearance Thursday, but did not enter a plea to charges including reckless endangerment, harassment, criminal trespass and risk of injury to a minor.

The charges stem from an April 5 posting on Craigslist that said a West Hartford woman wanted to "please as many as I can before I go to work!" Detectives, Conran's attorney and the woman targeted in the posting are not saying what prompted the feud between the longtime neighbors in the middle-class Hartford suburb.

West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci said even veteran officers were surprised by the number of strangers who knocked on the woman's door, called the house or drove by.

"We were saying to ourselves, 'The economy must be worse than we think if all of these able-bodied men are able to immediately drop everything and drive over to this neighborhood"' on a Monday morning, he said.

One man who showed up went to the wrong house, where he groped a teenage girl, police said. He has been charged with sexual assault and other counts. His attorney said his client has psychological issues and plans to plead not guilty.

Conran, an unemployed cook, has been free on $75,000 bond since his arrest. The married father was ordered Thursday to have no contact with his neighbor. He declined to comment after his court appearance.

His attorney, Michael Georgetti, said Conran has no criminal history and has been out of work since a major back operation in March. The arrest affidavit says he gave a written, sworn confession to police.

"Hopefully we'll reach a resolution that's fair not only to my client, but fair also to other people involved in this incident," Georgetti said.

The Craigslist ad, titled "Looking for lust," was purported to be written by a married soccer mom hoping to fulfill her fantasy of group sex and inviting strangers to "please come play." It listed her street address.

Men started showing up at her door and in her neighborhood, prompting her brother-in-law to stand guard and write down visitors' license plates, police said. He also shooed away those bold enough to come to the door, including one who threatened to post her picture at soccer fields around town, authorities said.

By the time the posting was removed, more than a half-dozen people had parked nearby or come to her door, and others slowly drove by or circled the neighborhood, police said.

The woman declined to comment when contacted this week by The Associated Press.

Police linked the posting to Conran through Craigslist and his Internet provider, according to court records.

Investigators confiscated Conran's computers and are examining them for potential links to other complaints, police said.

Last year, someone pretended to be the woman, then engaged in an explicit online chat with a stranger and invited the man over, Strillacci said. The woman sought help from police when the stranger showed up on her doorstep.

Several other fraudulent Craigslist postings have led to criminal charges around the nation, including a Casper, Wyo., case in which police say a woman was raped by a stranger who said he thought he was answering her Craigslist ad. Police in say the woman's ex-boyfriend pretended to be her in the ad, saying she wanted someone to fulfill her violent rape fantasy. The ex-boyfriend and the man who answered the ad were charged.

Susan MacTavish Best, a spokeswoman for Craigslist, said the company actively cooperates with police and that using the service for criminal purposes "inevitably leads to apprehension and prosecution."

In 2008, the company agreed to tighten its adult-services advertisements. Scrutiny of Craigslist increased significantly after prosecutors in Boston accused a former medical student with using the site to arrange a meeting with a masseuse and then allegedly killing her in a robbery.

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