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Air Force Academy ethics instructor arrested on charges of attempting to lure a child online

Laptop in a dark room. (PxHere/Released)

An Air Force intelligence officer serving as an ethics instructor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado faces allegations that he attempted to lure a child on the internet, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.

Investigators with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children task force arrested Capt. Paul Sikkema on the class 4 felony charge, the office announced on Twitter. It was not immediately clear when Sikkema was arrested, but Arapahoe County jail records indicate he remained in custody Wednesday and was scheduled for a hearing Thursday morning.

The Air Force Academy confirmed the instructor’s arrest in an emailed statement.

“We are aware of the arrest and can confirm Capt. Sikkema is a professor here at the academy,” the statement said. “We are tracking his civilian court case as it goes through the legal process and will cooperate fully as needed with the Arapahoe sheriff’s department.”

Arapahoe County spans about 850 square miles, east of Denver. Its county seat, Littleton, is about 55 miles north of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

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The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office did not release information about the circumstances leading up to Sikkema’s arrest. Officials did not immediately respond to a request Wednesday for additional information about the case.

Colorado law defines the charge of “internet luring of a child” as knowingly communicating electronically with an individual the suspect believes to be younger than 15 years old in which he or she “describes explicit sexual conduct [and] … makes a statement persuading or inviting the person to meet the [suspect] for any purpose.”

If convicted, Sikkema faces two to six years in prison and a fine up to $500,000, according to Colorado law.

Sikkema is a 2012 graduate of the Air Force Academy who returned in 2017 to his alma mater to teach in the philosophy department, according to his Air Force biography. He was teaching an ethics court in that department.

The captain also has a master’s degree in philosophy, which he earned from Georgia State University in 2014, writing his thesis on the ethics of targeted killing, according to the biography.

Before returning to the academy, Sikkema had attended intelligence officer training and worked as an instructor assigned to the 33th Air Control Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

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