Monday, May 19, 2008

On-line Sexual Predators

Shocked. Completely shocked and disturbed. That is how I feel after seeing a special report we aired last night on WHOI. I knew one of our reporters, Ian Schwartz, was working on the story, but I didn't realize what he found. He had been going on-line as a 16-year-old girl. He says he didn't mention anything that would make the men think he was looking for a sexual relationship. He says it was idle chatter.

SIX men from this area actually met up with his decoy! I couldn't believe it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but when the reporter only put out a few instant messages and got so many replies, it scared me. We really have to be careful about all this on-line chit chat. It would be hard to be raising a teenage girl these days. Often times, teenagers really are meeting other TEENS on-line. So it would be hard to tell a daughter she can't talk to anyone on-line she doesn't know. I can see how kids easily break that rule.

Here's the link to the video of Ian's story.

Let me know what you think. Maybe I'm just out of the loop on this fear because my kids are so young...

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Lynn said...

Is there going to be any further investigation into the men who came to meet this 'girl'? Do the police plan on charging them with a crime? said...

I don't think the police have anything that would hold up in court, but I will ask Ian to answer this question more accurately.

Jolie Alois (HOI 19 News Director) said...

This is something Ian and I discussed in detail before and during this investigation. We are prepared to share any of our information - chat logs and video - that is requested by police. Police and FBI were aware of what we were doing during the investigation as well.

Jennifer said...

I saw the news story, too, and was shocked. Not that there are predators (I think everyone has seen "Dateline") but that so many would respond so fast. And that they would send graphic pictures and that Ian was really upfront about being sixteen, yet they continued on.

ian said...


As Jolie mentioned this story was carefully discussed. There are a lot of moral questions we faced as far as our role in reporting.

Do we ask police to go along? Do we assist police with information to
help arrests these guys?

The original plan was to follow police as they did this on their own. Our job is not law enforcement-it's reporting and spreading awareness. They would not allow us to follow them during their investigations, as most of them were in the judicial stage when we pitched the idea.

We still felt that the story was important enough to do on our own. I think many parents and teens know this stuff happens, but we wanted to show how fast and how much it happens here at home.

If needed, we are ready to cooperate with authorities. (as mentioned) Though after talking with several agencies, (local police, FBI) I do not think they would use our information.

When they conduct their cyber crime investigations they use specialized computers that trace and record computer IP address. This technology is needed to build a concrete case that will hold up in court.

We did not have, nor did we use that technoligy. We chatted in a style and setting that a teenager would.

I felt it was not our job to try get these guys thrown in jail-they can do that on their own with this behavior.

Many of the men sent explicit photos of themselves, as well they engaged in sexual chat with a person they believed was 16.

Below are links to laws and FBI info.

I hope this answers your questions. If you have any more feel free to email me. Thanks.



Ian Schwartz
HOI 19 News


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