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Anti-Trump associate of Evan McMullin, Rick Wilson accused of soliciting sex from 15-year-old boy on Snapchat
Main photo of 2016 McMullin presidential campaign by George Frey/Getty Images | Inset image: screenshot of Alachua County Jail website

Anti-Trump associate of Evan McMullin, Rick Wilson accused of soliciting sex from 15-year-old boy on Snapchat

'Keep itour secret. Forever.'

The man behind Evan McMullin's unsuccessful spoiler presidential campaign in 2016 is now in jail after he allegedly solicited sex from a 15-year-old boy on Snapchat.

At around 11 a.m. last Wednesday, Joel Searby — a 43-year-old advocate for charter schools in Newberry, Florida, about 20 miles west of Gainesville — allegedly sent a Snapchat friend request to a 15-year-old boy who reportedly already had Searby's phone number stored in his phone. During the course of their Snapchat conversation, Searby allegedly shared with the boy that he had a "secret crush" on a man in his 40s when he was in high school.

'I woke up one morning with a deep conviction that I had to do something in this presidential election and that it was very likely that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee.'

"Eventually we got a chance to be alone and he made a move on me to kiss me and I liked it. Then we did more stuff in secret whenever we could. He kinda like taught me stuff. It was fun… Don’t regret it lol. What you think?" Searby allegedly wrote.

"Would ever do something like that?"

When the boy apparently replied that he'd consider it, Searby continued the conversation, though he repeatedly asked the boy to keep any relationship between them a secret, charging documents alleged:

Here's the deal, before I show face and we agree to it, I have to KNOW that you will keep itour secret. Forever. Just like I did with the guy I had when I was in high school. We had fun from my freshman year on, secretly, whenever we could. No one ever knew. But as [we] could both get in trouble if anyone finds out. Especially me. And NO ONE knows.

The arrest report indicated that Searby also sent the minor pictures of "a bulge in his underwear," of him taking a shower, and of him wearing boxer shorts, the Alachua Chronicle reported. Searby then allegedly came up with a ruse so that the boy could meet up at Searby's guest house without the boy's parents becoming suspicious.

Eventually, deputies with the Alachua sheriff's office began corresponding with Searby on Snapchat in the boy's stead. "When you mentioned yesterday about (manual stimulation.) Is that al [sic] we would be doing?" deputies wrote, posing as the boy.

"I mean I would like to do more but we can take it one step at a time and if I start doing anything you don't want to do we can stop. I'll walk you through it," Searby allegedly replied.

As prearranged, Searby then reportedly sent the boy a text message, inviting him over to help with yard work, giving the boy a plausible excuse to pay him a visit. The fact that Searby sent the message to the boy's phone reinforced the idea that "the defendant was the one sending the Snap Chat messages to the victim," the arrest report said.

On Thursday, just one day after the alleged Snapchat exchanges began, Searby was arrested and charged with lewd or lascivious conduct, use of a computer to solicit a minor, enticing a minor to travel, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. He remains in custody without bond, though a judge may reconsider assessing him bond at a separate hearing.

Searby reportedly told investigators that he wanted to remain silent and asked them whether his wife had been apprised of the accusations against him. The couple is believed to have multiple children together.

Searby is also a board member of Education First for Newberry, which recently helped convert three public schools in the city into charter schools. The organization released a statement following Searby's arrest, claiming to be "deeply troubled" by the accusations. "We immediately severed all ties with him upon learning of this incident," the statement continued. "We will fully cooperate with law enforcement and be of any assistance we can during this difficult time. The safety of our children is and will always be our #1 priority."

Eight years ago, Searby helped Evan McMullin launch an independent presidential campaign in hopes of thwarting a Trump presidency. "It all started in February of 2016 when I woke up one morning with a deep conviction that I had to do something in this presidential election and that it was very likely that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee," Searby wrote in November 2016, just a couple weeks after Trump's electoral triumph.

"I was deeply convicted that I must act, although on that February morning, I did not understand why or exactly what to do."

That summer, Searby partnered with other self-identifying Republicans who were likewise adamantly opposed to then-candidate Donald Trump, including Rick Wilson. McMullin eventually presented himself as a possible spoiler candidate, and after spending a few hours mulling the idea, Searby agreed. "I told him I’d be with him through the end."

Wilson even referenced Searby in a tweet about five months after Trump was inaugurated, describing Searby as a "friend" and "a man with guts, and heart."

Neither Wilson nor McMullin responded to Blaze News' request for comment.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →