A man whose online posts and alleged approaches to parents of children unsettled many metro-east residents now faces felony charges as he is being evaluated for his mental fitness.
James Lopes, 40, now faces six felony charges alleging that he attempted to solicit adults into having sex with children via the internet, and gave children cards imprinted with a website that contained his teachings regarding sex between adults and children as a religious rite.
He was charged Wednesday with three counts of grooming, a class 4 felony, in connection with the cards he allegedly handed out on April 23 and 24. He has also been charged with three new counts of disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor alleging that he approached young girls and declared that he was on a “mini date” with one and asked a 7-year-old girl, “Hi princess, are you looking for your prince? I’m right here.”
These charges come two days after Lopes was charged with two counts of misdemeanor trespass and disorderly conduct. He was arrested late Sunday at a gas station outside Livingston. According to court filings, he had waved at a little girl in the gas station parking lot, and was told by the attendant that his behavior was inappropriate and to leave. Lopes allegedly became disruptive and refused to leave, at which point Madison County Sheriff’s Department deputies were summoned.
Lopes had been the subject of much attention on social media all weekend after he allegedly approached a young girl at the Collinsville VFW on Saturday night, and then approached a young girl in an Edwardsville store. Both times he was interviewed by police, but had not yet committed a crime, according to law enforcement officials.
After his arrest, Lopes was held on $15,000 bail, which has since been increased to $75,000 due to the felony charges. Lopes was in custody Wednesday, and Madison County Associate Judge Jennifer Hightower ordered that he be held regardless of bail for a psychological evaluation.
Additionally, Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said a petition has been filed to declare Lopes a sexually dangerous person. If found to be sexually dangerous, Lopes would be committed to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections for treatment for an indeterminate period of time.
The maximum penalty for the Class 4 felony charges is three years in prison.