In September of 2021, a detective with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of an adult male, identified as 36-year-old Anthony Gaunce, using social media and messaging applications to communicate with an FBI Special Agent who is assigned to the Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force based in Montana.

In those messages, the FBI Special Agent was holding himself out as a minor female and Gaunce was sending those profiles sexualized messages. The detective and FBI Agent utilize several fictitious personas that are intended to identify potential child sexual offenders by purporting to be minor females.

In January of 2022, Gaunce also began communicating with a purported minor female identity utilized by the detective. Gaunce initiated this contact. In the second message, Gaunce asked the minor female if she was attracted to older men. The detective immediately told Gaunce that he was communicating with a 13-year-old female.

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From January through March, Gaunce continued his communication with the undercover identity utilized by the detective. The detective reiterated during the conversations that Gaunce was speaking to a minor female and Gaunce indicated his awareness of the age of the child by discussing school, homework, and other child-like topics.

At one point, Gaunce sent photos to the purported minor female which clearly showed Gaunce’s face. This allowed the detective to positively identify Gaunce as the account user. Additionally, court documents indicate Gaunce sent photos and videos to the minor female of his genitals.

Gaunce also stated he would have sex with the adult female guardian of the minor female if it got him closer to her. He indicated he would gain the guardian’s trust so that he could have access to the purported 13-year-old sexually. He also asked her if she could sneak out or if he could sneak in to meet her.

On March 23, 2022, Gaunce ultimately arranged to meet with the purported minor female in person. While arranging the meeting with the minor female, Gaunce stated he wanted to engage with her sexually. The detective communicated with Gaunce to arrange a time and meeting place in Missoula.

Gaunce indicated he intended to arrive at the meeting location between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., with the intentions to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual contact. Gaunce arrived at the pre-determined location in Missoula at approximately 4:00 p.m. Gaunce was ultimately taken into custody when he arrived at the location.

Guance is currently being charged with two felony counts of sexual abuse of children.

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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