Gladstone man faces felony charges for child sex crimes in Munising

38-year-old Clifford Kaja was arrested following an undercover child sex crime operation.
Clifford Kaja, arrested in Munising for child sex crimes.
Clifford Kaja, arrested in Munising for child sex crimes.(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:06 AM EDT
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MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - A Gladstone man is charged with child sex crimes following an undercover operation in Munising.

In partnership with the U.P. Human Oppression Strike Team (U.P. HOST), the Alger County Sheriff’s Office conducted an undercover operation last week to identify and arrest perpetrators of child sex crimes in Alger County.

According to the Alger County Sheriff and the Upper Peninsula Human Trafficking Task Force (UPHTTF), 38-year-old Clifford Lawrence Kaja chatted with undercover police agents who posed as minors. Following the chats, Kaja allegedly arrived at a hotel in Munising with a form of payment in exchange to have sex with a 15-year-old. He also brought alcohol and a pack of condoms with him to the hotel.

Alger County Prosecutor Robert Steinhoff charged Kaja with:

  • accosting a child for immoral purposes— a felony with a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison and/or a $4,000 fine;
  • using a computer to commit a crime— a felony with a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison;
  • selling/furnishing alcohol to a minor— a misdemeanor with a mandatory $1,000 fine and up to 60 days imprisonment.

A cash bond of $100,000 was set for Kaja.

The Alger County Sheriff said multiple people interested in having sex with a minor carried out hundreds of chats with undercover police agents during the operation. They encourage people who have been harmed by Kaja, or who have any other important information to contact the Alger County Sheriff’s Office at 906-387-4444.

The multi-jurisdictional operation included law enforcement agencies from Alger County Sheriff’s Office, Baraga County Sheriff’s Office, Houghton County Sheriff’s Office, and Iron River Police Department.

Operational expenses were grant-funded by the UPHTTF, a nonprofit non-governmental organization whose goal is to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases at the local, state, and federal levels. The UPHTTF created the U.P. HOST.

A 24/7 confidential helpline and tip line, operated by the UPHTTF is available to the public to call at (906) 299-9243. To find more information about the UPHTT, visit the website.