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DECATUR — A Decatur man who claimed to be testing the moral character of a 12-year-old girl by sending her sexually suggestive messages via Facebook appeared in court Wednesday pleading not guilty to a charge of indecent solicitation/aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Jason F. Belman, 33, also entered a plea of not guilty to an additional charge of “grooming,” which means using electronic communications to seduce a child into committing sex acts.

Belman, who remains held in the Macon County Jail in lieu of posting $100,000 bond, was represented by Chief Public Defender David Ellison who waived a formal preliminary hearing on the charges. Judge Phoebe Bowers then set the case on the trial list of Judge Thomas Griffith and scheduled a pretrial hearing for June 4.

A sworn police affidavit about the case from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office said deputies had become involved in November when the girl’s father had discovered comments left for her on Facebook Messenger.

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He showed police messages attributed to Belman that said “I flirt with you,” “U promise not to tell and erase our messages” and “LOL, well sex would be fun.”

The affidavit said the child replied to that message with “You want to have sex with me or someone else?” and Belman replied “LOL not anyone else.”

The affidavit said Belman had told deputies he had sent the messages to test the girl’s character after his wife had shown him a nude picture of the girl’s younger sister sent to a member of Belman’s family.

“He advised that he knew (the 12-year-old) was underage and that it probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation,” the affidavit said.

2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review 

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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