GATE CITY — A former Coeburn police officer is facing felony charges for allegedly sending sexually explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl over Facebook.
Edward Shane Kiser, 27, of Coeburn, was arrested and charged Friday by the Virginia State Police with using a computer in an attempt to gain sex from a minor.
The charge is considered a Class 5 felony and carries a possible sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
Although Kiser lives in Coeburn, the Scott County Commonwealth Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case since the alleged victim is a resident of Scott County.
"The VSP received contact (from the girl's parents) that there was, at that time, an officer from the town of Coeburn who had been Facebooking their daughter," Scott County Commonwealth's Attorney Marcus McClung said. "He had made contact with the girl through his occupation, and he then began what we believe was an inappropriate relationship through Facebook."
Kiser was employed as a patrol officer with the Coeburn Police Department when he allegedly began sending the messages.
Coeburn Town Manager Loretta Mays confirmed that Kiser submitted his resignation from the force without reason prior to being charged and arrested Friday.
The VSP began investigating Kiser on Aug. 16 after the teenage girl's parents reported his alleged actions to the Scott County Sheriff's Office.
According to McClung and VSP Special Agent Jason Jenkins, Kiser first met the girl -- and subsequently learned her identity and age -- following a noise complaint involving juveniles at a gas station in Coeburn.
As a result of that incident, authorities said Kiser was able to find the girl's Facebook profile and began sending her private messages on the social networking site propositioning her for sex.
"We allege that he knew how old she was," McClung said. "When he stopped her, he had an opportunity to locate her age, and despite that he decided to carry on the inappropriate communication."
After the girl's parents discovered the messages and went to authorities, Jenkins was given permission to assume her identity on Facebook and begin carrying on conversations with Kiser.
That portion of the investigation lasted nearly a week before authorities decided to formally charge Kiser.
Jenkins said the cooperation of the girl's parents was key to the investigation getting under way.
"It's very important to have the parents involved," Jenkins said. "Without the parents, a lot of times we wouldn't know the extent of how bad these situations can be, because without parent involvement we might not find out."
Following his arrest, state law enforcement executed a search warrant on Kiser's residence and seized a computer and cell phones.
Kiser was taken before a Scott County magistrate after being taken into custody Friday and was released on his own recognizance.
McClung said anyone with additional information on this, or similar cases, should contact his office at (276) 386-2576.