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New details emerge in ‘sex dungeon’ child trafficking case in Vernon

VERNON -- Connecticut State Police arrested a man who they said was trying to exchange a preteen girl for money, except the girl was a trooper posing as a child.

A FOX 61 News viewer noticed the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Detectives at a business on Rt. 83 in Vernon Wednesday. FOX61 learned that the State Police Computer Crimes Unit was conducting an ongoing investigation into prostitution and human trafficking.

According to the arrest report, Simon Hessler, 46, of Ellington, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly attempting to purchase, what he believed to be a female handcuffed, blindfolded 12-year-old DCF/foster kid for sex. He also allegedly wanted to have control of her for 48 hours, in a trailer behind the Baymont Inn and Suites in Manchester, which he owned, along with New England Hospitality Management Inc. in Vernon. The "dungeon" was found at the Vernon business.

Initially, The Connecticut State Police used social media to discover Hessler’s attempts to contact and connect with under-aged children. After developing a rapport, they were then able to directly text message him to arrange for a drop off of the 12-year-old girl.

According to the arrest report,  the detectives were given instructions from Hessler to have the female put on a hood and handcuffs and to then take a photo. The photo was then sent to Hessler. Hessler then instructed the detectives he had left them $480 in a cabinet above the kitchen sink.

Acting undercover detectives went to the trailer behind the hotel. Hessler emerged from a pickup truck in the parking lot and came to the trailer, that’s when Connecticut State Police arrested Hessler.

Hessler has been charged with the following:

  • Attempted conspiracy at trafficking in persons
  • Attempted felony to patronize prostitute
  • Second-degree attempted sex assault
  • Attempted impairing the morals of a minor
  • Attempted unlawful restraint
  • Attempted cruelty to persons
  • Attempted promotion of child pornography

Hessler was originally held on $250,000 bail but that was later raised to $1 million. He's due back in court Dec. 12.

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