Bellevue Police arrested a 58-year-old Lake Stevens man Friday for allegedly trying to seduce a Bellevue boy he learned about from the boy's MySpace.com website.
On Feb. 7, Bellevue Police received a report that the suspect contacted the boy at Bellevue Square Mall. While the boy had initially rebuffed the suspect's advances, he agreed to meet the man when he offered to buy beer for the boy and his friends. According to the report, the children fled when the suspect asked them to get into his truck. The victim's mother called 911.
Bellevue detectives obtained a search warrant directing MySpace to provide identifying information for the suspect based on his user name. On Feb. 15, they searched the suspect's home. Police arrested the suspect at his work place. He was booked into King County Jail for investigation of child luring. He was later arraigned and released.
After a search of the victim's computer revealed an explicit photo sent by the suspect, Bellevue detectives arrested the suspect again on Feb. 23 at his home and seized more evidence. He was booked into King County Jail on the new charge of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, a felony in this case because the communication was electronic. The investigation continues and more charges may be added later.
This incident illustrates several of the dangers that come with Internet use, especially by children. The victim had posted photos of himself, his city, the name of his school and, briefly, even his cell phone number. Even though the victim's mother checked his MySpace account often, the suspect slipped through to contact her son. Any website where personal information can be posted carries similar risks.
If you have reason to think your child or a child you know might be exposed to an online predator, call 911.
Tips for Parents:
- Know where your children are, and what they are doing. They don't always make good decisions and may need you to intervene, whether they like it or not.
- Monitor your child's online activity. Set strict guidelines for Internet use, and if they do not comply, pull the plug.
- Talk to your children in a neutral manner. This is the best way to find out what's going on in their life and who they are associating with.
- Keep your computer in a public area of the home, so children can't hide their activities from you.
Tips for Internet Users:
- Limit the personal information you post on the Web. Check photos to ensure they don't disclose unintended information about where you live, work or play. Names, addresses and phone numbers should never be posted. Schools, favorite hangouts, friends and place of work can also lead predators to your door.
- Predators use the anonymity of the Web to conceal themselves; you can too. Vagueness can be your best defense, without impact to your ability to communicate and enjoy the benefits of the Web.
- Never agree to meet anyone you met exclusively online. If you are a juvenile, discuss who you want to contact with your parents. If you don’t tell them because they wouldn't approve or permit the meeting to happen, that's a strong sign you should not be in contact with that person.
- People lie on the Internet, probably more than they tell the truth. Many teens have been surprised when the 16-year-old girl with whom they thought they were communicating turns out to be a 45-year-old man.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if an someone you don't know wants to buy you things, it's likely they want something in return.
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