The most recent suspect arrested by Lodi police in connection with sexually-based offenses involving children was arraigned on Monday. He now faces 20 felony charges.

Brian Witt, 42, of Lodi, was arrested on April 24 by Lodi police officers on suspicion of multiple sexually-based offenses. His bail was reduced from $7.055 million to $1 million during his Monday afternoon arraignment, and he will appear before court again on May 8 at 8:15 a.m. for a pre-preliminary hearing.

Witt was charged with the following crimes that allegedly took place between October 2015 and April 2019:

• Four counts of sodomy of a minor under the age of 14 with the defendant more than 10 years older. If convicted, each count carries a sentence of up to 25 years to life.

• Three counts of oral copulation with a minor under the age of 14 with the defendant more than 10 years older. If convicted, each count carries a sentence of up to 15 years to life.

• Three counts of oral copulation of a minor under the age of 16 with the defendant more than 10 years older. If convicted, each count carries a sentence of up to 15 years to life.

• Two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a minor. If convicted, each count carries a sentence of six, 12 or 16 years.

• Two counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a minor. If convicted, each count carries a sentence of three, six or eight years.

• One count of possession of child pornography. If convicted, the count carries a sentence of one year or a $2,500 fine.

• Five counts of use or employment of a minor for obscene acts. If convicted, each count carries a sentence of three, six or eight years.

Witt is one of numerous suspects arrested in Lodi this year on suspicion of sexually-based offenses involving minors. Other recent cases include:

• Ronald Baker, 59, was arrested on Jan. 28 on suspicion of possession of child pornography. He will be sentenced at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday.

• Kristopher Jones, 29, was arrested by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 28 on suspicion of two counts of oral copulation with a victim under 10 years of age, two counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years of age, one count of contacting a minor with intent to engage in sexual intercourse and one count of arranging to meet with a minor for sex.

The offenses allegedly took place 10 years ago when Jones was employed by the Stockton Parks and Recreation Department and worked at an after-school program at Davis Elementary School, a Lodi Unified School District school.

• Mubashir Ahmad, 24, was arrested on March 28 on suspicion of arranging to meet with a minor for sex, but court records show he is facing a charge of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than three years younger.

• Bradley Allen Spiker, 45, was arrested on March 29 in Sacramento on suspicion of possession of child pornography and was later transferred to the Lodi Police Department.

• Andrew Bishofberger, 26, was arrested on April 2 in Lodi on suspicion of possessing child pornography.

“None of these crimes appear to be connected in any way,” said Lodi Police Detective Michael Hitchcock in a Monday email. “I don’t believe the number of offenders is going up. I believe that with advances in technology and the removal of social stigmas of being a victim of sexual abuse we are just able to identify a larger number of offenders than before.”

Social media did not play a role in identifying the suspects, Hitchcock said.

“Most of our child pornography suspects are being identified via tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Hitchcock said.

In most cases of child sexual abuse, Hitchcock said the suspect is someone the victim knows and trusts.

“Parents should listen to their children as it is rare a child makes up a story about sexual abuse,” Hitchcock said. “Parents should look for changes in a child’s behavior which can also be an indicator of sexual or physical abuse.”

The Lodi Police Department is not the only local law enforcement agency cracking down on child sexual abuse.

According to a recent article in the Stockton Record, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, Lathrop Police Department and Manteca Police Department conducted a sting operation on April 19 in which 24 suspects were arrested, most of them adult men who tried to solicit sex from children under the age of 14.

The Lodi Police Department encourages parents to monitor their children’s internet usage. If trafficking or exploitation is suspected, call the Lodi Police Department at 209-333-6727 or contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at www.missingkids .com.

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