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Ex-candidate charged with sex crime

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A man who ran unsuccessful campaigns for seats on the Autauga County school board, the Legislature and the Prattville city council has been arrested and charged with soliciting a child by computer.

Matthew Benjamin Abernathy, 27, of Prattville was taken into custody at 5:30 p.m. Monday following a sting operation by the Morris and Prattville police departments.

Morris Police Chief Brian Cochran said Abernathy reportedly arranged to meet a girl he thought was 14 years old.

But the girl, according to authorities, was actually a police officer posing as an underage child.

Cochran said Abernathy could face additional charges in Autauga County.

He was being held in the Jefferson County Jail under a $20,000 dollar bond Thursday afternoon.

Abernathy emphasized issues of child safety in his campaign for the Board of Education in 2004.

"I am running because kids need me," he said at the time. "They have not had anybody on the Board of Education looking out for them completely in years."

Abernathy is a graduate of Prattville High School and Alabama State University.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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