A Maryland chiropractor was arrested by Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputies earlier this month on suspicion of sexually assaulting a child. The alleged victim is a minor resident of the Houston metropolitan area, and the suspect is accused of traveling from Baltimore to carry out the crime.
Blake Edward Kalkstein, 37, was arrested in the city of Stafford, facing two felony counts of sexual assault of a child.
According to a report broadcast by Baltimore’s NBC affiliate, Kalkstein participated in various online gaming platforms often frequented by young players. This is how he met the alleged victim.
He first traveled to Texas to meet the child in person in May, according to prosecutors’ claims, before later returning to the Houston area in early July for the same purpose. By the time Kalkstein traveled to Texas for a second time, he had already accumulated two felony warrants.
Each of Kalkstein’s felony charges requires a $100,000 bond to be posted as bail, but prosecutors can always request the bail be increased during the arraignment.
In this particular case, Fort Bend prosecutors may also raise the issue of Kalkstein’s travel patterns, which suggest he may present a flight risk. Because the suspect is a Baltimore resident with no known ties to the Lone Star State, prosecutors could argue that he needs to be kept in custody through the criminal trial.
Should the court agree, Kalkstein would be credited with each day spent in jail as time served, reducing his sentence if convicted.
According to the FBI, domestic travel to engage in sexual contact with minors is within the scope of its enforcement, which means that Texas prosecutors and detectives will have the full support of the federal agency if needed. The Violent Crimes Against Children division of the FBI can also refer cases to federal prosecutors when suspects cross state lines to commit crimes.
Fort Bend County (FBC) Sheriff Eric Fagan spoke about Kalkstein’s arrest during a brief interview with KHOU 11 News, calling on parents to be vigilant about the online gaming activities of their children.
Fagan said the use of online gaming platforms by sexual predators is not new: predators have used this approach since the days when most computer games were text-based. Invariably their modus operandi consists of exploiting the social media features of video gaming hubs, which often provide group and private chat through text or voice messaging.
In July 2021, FBI officials launched a public service campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of online gaming platforms used by children, as cases involving the sexual exploitation and grooming of American children increased by almost 20% during the coronavirus pandemic.