Police warn of sex offender looking for athletic women online

Police warn of sex offender looking for athletic women online

The KATU On Your Side Investigators are on the trail of a convicted sex criminal right now, but police say he’s not looking to victimize just any woman.

According to ads he’s putting online, he needs a particular type of female: the athletic type.

Here’s what we know so far: Brandon James Clifford, a convicted sex offender, is using ads on Craigslist to find women. In the ads, he says he’s looking for women’s soccer players, or kick boxers, to help teach self-defense to college-age women.

He writes that he wants them for their strong legs; he wants them because they know how to kick.

And we’ve found this same ad popping up around the country – twice now in Portland, but also in Salt Lake City, Richmond and Boston.

Police tell us that women who see this ad should not reply. They say Clifford is using these women for a violent form of sexual gratification where they kick him in the groin.

But it also appears Clifford is very smart – smart enough to stay a step ahead of the law. He doesn’t live in any of these cities but flies in to meet his victims, police say.

However, it was his recent interest in Portland – he’s tried twice now to find victims here – that has him back on the radar of police. A woman who saw the ad grew suspicious and contacted Portland police to cooperate in a sting operation. 

The woman, who asked to not be identified to protect her privacy, said she thought she was pursuing a job opportunity when she saw the ad asking for female soccer players to teach self-defense classes. She messaged the man offering the job.

"He asked me if I was comfortable repeatedly kicking and he referenced the groin," she said. "I said 'yeah, it shouldn't be a problem, but I mean, it's terrible for you. At least you guys are wearing pads, right?' And he responded with 'oh no, we're trained to take it.'"

She said his response threw her for a loop. Still, she said Clifford arranged to meet her and five other women at the Jim Dandy's restaurant in Portland on Monday. They were then going to begin the "training" at a nearby Quality Inn.

"He also mentioned was I up for the challenge to kick him in the groin to send him to the ground, because anyone who does is paid higher," she said.

The woman and a friend got suspicious and did an online search. That's when they found news reports about Clifford, including one from the New York Post in 2001 about a "federal immigration agent from New York who admitted to trying to lure a 15-year-old girl to a motel to help him act out a violent sexual fantasy."

Clifford was arrested when he showed up to her middle school, according to news reports.

Police here in Portland said Clifford flies around the country to act out his fantasy.

Officers confronted him at the Quality Inn while he was beginning warm-ups with the five unsuspecting women. They said if he stays in Oregon more than 24 days he must register as a sex offender.

"He was going to a lot of effort to do whatever he wants to do," the woman said. "Whether that's just being kicked in the groin or whether he has worse motivations, I don't want to think about it."