DA’s office charges prof

Antony Periathamby, a research professor in the School of Dentistry, was charged Wednesday with use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, a class D felony with a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, a $100,000 fine or both.

"The university learned of the charges (Wednesday)," said Brigid O'Brien, director of university communication. "He is no longer on campus pending this investigation." She could not comment on Periathamby's employment status because it is university policy not to comment on personnel matters.

In an interview on Feb. 28, Capt. Phil Horter of the City of Brookfield Police Department said Periathamby, 59 and a City of Brookfield resident, was arrested Feb. 27. Charges were not filed until Wednesday.

Horter said the police received a call from a citizen who had conversed with Periathamby over the Internet, posing as a 13-year-old girl, and set up a meeting with him.

Multiple calls to Periathamby's lawyer were not returned and Periathamby, when reached at his home, declined to comment.

The criminal complaint, filed Wednesday, heavily quotes both the volunteer from a group called uscyberwatch.com and Periathamby.

The volunteer entered an Internet chat room posing as 13-year-old Christie Balsa a few weeks prior to Feb. 27. A user named TOGERKING approached her and "said he was looking for a girlfriend for intimacy and sex." Further, "TOGERKING told her he was anxious to meet with her to let her experience sex," according to the complaint.

TOGERKING then provided a picture and, after the volunteer asked several times, provided a phone number. The volunteer said TOGERKING was "scared to give (the number) because she was under 18."

The volunteer called and spoke briefly with a man who identified himself as "Antony." After the conversation, a meeting was arranged via the Internet for Feb. 27 in the parking lot of a Pick N Save, 17630 W. Bluemound Rd., according to the complaint.

The volunteer provided police with copies of time stamped Internet conversations and the picture TOGERKING sent to her.

Police waited at the Pick N Save on Feb. 27 and approached a man identified as Periathamby entering the car described to the volunteer after exiting the Pick N Save.

Periathamby said he was there to return DVDs and shop for groceries. When confronted with the charge that he was there to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex, he denied that was true.

He said he was a research professor at Marquette and was working from home on his laptop when several pop-up messages asked him for his age, location and marital status on Feb. 27.

Some messages asked Periathamby if he wanted to engage in intimacy, but he did not "respond much was he was concentrating on his work." He said he responded to some, giving his age as "very old" and did not ask the people messaging him their names or ages.

Periathamby said he did not know a "Christie Balsa," but "may have spoken with a Christina." He said he had never heard of the name "TOGERKING."

Periathamby's wife said he asked her to go with her to the Pick N Save on Feb. 27, but she declined. When shown the picture the volunteer provided to the police, "she recognized the picture of her husband which was taken at Christmas time at their residence," the complaint said.

Periathamby is scheduled to appear in court in Waukesha County March 30.

Debra Blasius, the deputy district attorney handling the case, confirmed the charges and provided the Tribune with the criminal complaint.

Will Ashenmacher of the Tribune Staff contributed to this report.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Mar. 10 2005.