Air Force Academy ethics instructor arrested on charges of attempting to lure a child online
WASHINGTON — An Air Force intelligence officer serving as an ethics instructor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado faces allegations that he attempted to lure a child on the internet, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.
Capt. Paul Sikkema described his genitals, expressed his desire to perform sexual acts with an undercover officer and attempted to persuade the officer who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl to meet him, according to arrest documents filed Wednesday by investigators with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
Sikkema surrendered to investigators Wednesday and he was set to face an initial hearing Thursday.
Sikkema, 29, faces one count of internet luring of a child, a class 4 felony that carries a penalty of two to six years in prison and a fine up to $500,000, according to Colorado law. Law enforcement officials have requested he be denied bond.
The Air Force Academy confirmed the instructor’s arrest in an emailed statement.
"We are aware of the arrest and can confirm Capt. Sikkema is a professor here at the academy,” the statement said. “We are tracking his civilian court case as it goes through the legal process and will cooperate fully as needed with the Arapahoe sheriff's department.”
Arapahoe County spans about 850 square miles, east of Denver. Its county seat, Littleton, is about 55 miles north of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Arrest documents state the undercover officer first made contact with Sikkema on Jan. 21 in an online chat room. The conversation eventually continued through text messages for about one week.
Those documents also show the Air Force officer inquired about the 14-year-old’s sexual history and whether she was “into older guys.”
During at least one point in the conversation Sikkema acknowledged he should not be involved in such behavior, according to the documents.
“I can get in a lot of trouble by talking to you,” Sikkema wrote. But at another point, he wrote, “Now I really wanna come up and see you.”
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office declined further comment on the case, saying it remained under investigation.
Sikkema is a 2012 graduate of the Air Force Academy who returned in 2017 to his alma mater to teach in the philosophy department, according to his Air Force biography. He was teaching an ethics course in that department.
The captain also has a master’s degree in philosophy, which he earned from Georgia State University in 2014, writing his thesis on the ethics of targeted killing, according to the biography.
Before returning to the academy, Sikkema had attended intelligence officer training and worked as an instructor assigned to the 337th Air Control Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.