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A college professor and church elder has been arrested on a misdemeanor charge of patronizing prostitution after allegedly offering to pay young men for sexual favors.
Barry Poyner, a communications professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., is accused of soliciting an undercover officer posing as an 18-year-old college student on the gay social networking app Grindr.
Court documents claim that the Truman State University Police Department received a tip that Poyner was “harassing male Truman students for sexual contact as well as offering to pay for items for sexual favors by using the app Grindr.”
The Kirksville Police Department set up an undercover profile and was contacted by a user with the handle “DILF.”
The user told the undercover officer that he “would love to have a sugar daddy relationship,” and that in previous relationships he had provided gift cards, clothing and money to his partners, reports the Kirksville Daily Express.
On Dec. 3, “DILF” reached out to the undercover office and asked for sexual favors in exchange for providing fuel for the officer’s vehicle, adding that he “might throw in an Arby’s card LOL.”
“DILF” agreed to meet the undercover officer at a local gas station to provide the fuel before the sexual favors.
He provided his location, which matched Poyner’s address, and then Poyner arrived at the gas station. He attempted to flee when officers approached his vehicle, but was pulled over several blocks later.
Poyner reportedly told the officers that he “was not doing anything with a minor.” When an officer said the situation had to do with offering payment for sexual favors, Poyner said he “was not going to do that” and “I was going to give him some gas.”
The officer told Poyner he should not offer money or gifts for sex. Poyner responded that he was “trying to help.”
In addition to being a professor, Poyner is one of three elders at Kirksville Church of Christ, which has made several anti-LGBTQ posts on its Facebook page in the past, reports The Daily Mail.
The church hasn’t commented on Poyner’s arrest but has since removed its website and Facebook page.
Truman State University issued a statement saying Poyner has been placed on suspension, and is forbidden to be on campus, participate in school activities, or have contact with any student organizations.
The school said it is cooperating with law enforcement and would issue no further comments while the matter is under investigation.
If convicted on the prostitution charge, Poyner could face up to six months in prison, a fine of $1,000, or both. He is next scheduled to appear in Adair County Associate Circuit Court on Jan. 8.
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