A 31-year-old citizen of Germany was arrested in Brentwood and charged with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Unfortunately, this happens around the world with people of many different nationalities,” said Tatum King, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “We’re working closely with our prosecutors, in this case, the Northern District of California, to make sure they get their day in court.”
According to the DOJ, Adam Soboll was arrested in Brentwood Aug. 25 and charged several days later. Soboll identified himself as a fifth-grade teacher in Germany.
The complaint alleges Soboll met the then-14-year-old online in October 2018. Soboll communicated with the minor from Germany using Snapchat and online gaming platforms, as well as over other messaging applications. The following January, Soboll began discussing the possibility of visiting the minor in Brentwood. Soboll and the minor discussed where he should stay and the various forms of sexual conduct in which they would engage when he arrived.
Soboll arrived in the United States from Germany July 31, and checked into a Brentwood hotel where it is alleged in the complaint Soboll engaged in sexual conduct with the minor. Officers from the Brentwood Police Department (BPD) responded to the hotel following a report from the minor’s mother and arrested Soboll.
“It was actually the parents that notified the police department, when they became aware of this possible relationship that was taking place based on information they discovered,” said Lt. Walter O’Grodnick of the Brentwood Police Department. “When we received that information, we moved quickly and developed enough information to find where the suspect was staying. It was at a local hotel here in town. Through that investigation, we established enough to develop probable cause to make an arrest based on preliminary evidence. The suspect was taken into custody without incident.”
After the arrest, the BPD and the Contra Costa Office of the District Attorney turned the case over to the DOJ and HSI.
“From the onset, we had every intention of charging this person with multiple felony crimes involving a minor,” said O’Grodnick. “But after consulting the district attorney as well as an investigator who specializes in these types of cases, it made more sense to transfer it to the federal agency.”
Should the DOJ, for any reason, opt not to continue with its case, the Contra Costa County District Attorney has the option of pursuing its own case.
O’Grodnick suggested parents view this case as a reminder to monitor their children’s online activity and be on the lookout for anything unusual or suspicious.
“If there is anything to suggest that there is evidence of any wrongdoing, notify the police department,” said O’Grodnick. “Let us take a closer look at things. If there is evidence to suggest there’s something there, we’re going to investigate it.”
The case is currently being investigated by HSI, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and the Brentwood Police Department.