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Oculus engineer arrested for allegedly soliciting underage girl in sting operation

Oculus Rift Consumer Edition

Longtime Oculus engineer Dov Katz was arrested last week after allegedly soliciting sex from a police officer he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Washington news outlet KING 5 reported on Friday that Katz responded to an online ad posted as part of a sting operation by an undercover detective, who claimed to be 15 years old.

According to charging documents published by GeekWire, Katz and the officer agreed to meet at a hotel in Tukwila, Washington. Katz showed up on the evening of December 21st and was arrested at the hotel carrying $600 in cash. He allegedly told police that he had come to “rescue” the fictitious girl, although the documents quote explicit text messages arranging a sexual encounter.

Katz currently describes himself on LinkedIn as head of computer vision and machine learning at Oculus, where he’s listed as having worked since March of 2013 — a very early point in the virtual reality company’s history, before its $2 billion buyout by Facebook in 2014. An Israeli citizen working in California, he was profiled by The Times of Israel for his work shortly after the acquisition. According to KING 5, he will be arraigned for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes on January 5th, 2017.

While Katz isn’t a high-profile Oculus employee, computer vision has a wide range of applications in virtual reality, including tracking the motion of headsets like the Oculus Rift. Katz’s LinkedIn page states that he helped develop the Rift’s head tracking system, and the company is currently experimenting with more advanced “inside-out” tracking that would abolish external cameras, although it’s unknown exactly what Katz was doing at the time of his arrest. Oculus did not immediately reply to questions about whether Katz remains employed.