A 37-year-old Black Diamond man, who worked as a Kent School District custodian, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, May 12 to a charge of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
Travis Forman entered the plea to the gross misdemeanor charge at Black Diamond Municipal Court, according to court officials. Forman is scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing on June 9.
The Kent School District placed Forman on administrative leave last month after it was notified about allegations of an inappropriate interaction with a non-Kent School District minor. He worked as a custodian at Cedar Valley Elementary School in Covington after previously working the same job at Kent-Meridian High School, according to police and school reports and emails.
The Black Diamond Police Department initially began investigating an attempted extortion case after Forman reported to an officer on April 25 about a conversation he had on Grindr, a social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people.
Forman said he gave his cellphone number to a boy who claimed to be 16 years old and they exchanged text messages. Forman said he sent the boy a photo of his genitals and attempted to meet up with the individual. But he said the boy told him he had enough and was going to send the conversation to the police and to his employer, the Kent School District.
The next day, the officer received an email sent to the Black Diamond Police from a man who claimed to work for a watchdog group that poses as minors in an effort to catch adults preying on children for immoral purposes. The man said he came across Forman online and Forman began an illicit conversation with whom he believed to be a 16-year-old boy. The man tracked down Forman’s Facebook page to learn he had worked as a custodian at Kent-Meridian High School.
Information the man sent to police included screenshots of the conversation between Forman and the 16-year-old boy the man posed as during the exchange of messages which included possibly meeting up for sex at a hotel.
Black Diamond Police forwarded the case to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. That office told police they declined the case because Forman could have sex with a 16 year old under Washington state law. But it is illegal to speak about having sex with a minor (or someone believed to be minor, under age 18). A prosecutor told police the case could be filed in municipal court under the gross misdemeanor criteria for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
A county prosecutor also told police they declined the case because it was a citizen engaged in a quasi-sting operation rather than law enforcement.
Police arrested Forman on May 4 at his home. He was booked and then returned to his home. Forman declined to talk to police about the incident after he was read his Miranda rights, according to the police report. Police confiscated his cellphone.
Kent Police were informed about the case by the Kent School District but turned the incident over to Black Diamond Police because that’s where Forman lives and reportedly where he communicated by cellphone with the man who posed as a boy.
A Kent School District spokesperson said Forman remained on administrative leave and that they continue to work with police during the open investigation.