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Man arrested while sting operator testifies

A man targeted in an online child-sex sting has been arrested at the Ohio Statehouse at the same time as a hearing on whether to increase penalties for such crimes.

Detective Jeff Braley with the police department in Warren County's Hamilton Township was testifying this morning while a 48-year-old man from the Columbus area was taken into custody two floors below.

Braley says he'd set up the meeting with the suspect and says the man thought he'd been communicating online with a 15-year-old girl.

Braley held 48-year-old Barry Mentser of New Albany for Columbus police. Braley says Mentser thought he had been communicating online with a 15-year-old girl. Braley said he'd earlier posed as the girl to set up a Statehouse meeting with the man.

Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner says Mentser is charged with importuning and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. He was taken to the Franklin County jail. If convicted, Menster faces one year to 30 months in jail.

The detective appeared before the Ohio Senate's Criminal Justice Committee in favor of a bill setting mandatory sentences of one to five years for sex offenders who prey upon children using the Internet.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.