To Catch a Predator: A Cautionary Tale of Internet Safety

A simple post on a Myspace and a profile picture with a Staples jersey on was all it took for an online predator to contact her.

She was 14 years old when the predator contacted her through instant messenger.

Two years before, this seventh grader from Westport was asked by a friend for her screen name and posted it on her friend’s Myspace.

“I had a Myspace page for maybe a month before I deleted it and apparently that was enough time for this man to get my name information and contact me,” said the girl who has been kept anonymous. “He then claimed to have seen my Facebook picture, which was a photo of me wearing my Staples jersey, so he knew what town I lived in and what school I went to. He told me that he had ‘stopped by’ a few times to see if I was there, but wasn’t able to locate me during class.”

The situation got substantially more serious when the predator was contacting her through her cell phone every day and knew her home address at her mom and dad’s houses. “He asked me if I was allowed to have sleepovers with people and if my parents would allow me to meet him somewhere to chat in person. He told me he thought I was beautiful and he thought I was really nice,” wrote the girl.

The girl then called the police, when she realized how serious the situation had become.

“The [police] asked me to print out a conversation [with the predator], so I gave them the only ones I could find. They ended up taking my entire computer away to look through my hard drive and [to] find any other conversations we had had prior to the one I printed for them,” said the girl.

Telling her story to a judge would put him in jail for 10 years. However, the girl refused, because the man had never physically contacted her. However, he may have attempted to contact her because he allegedly came to the school to see her.

This was not the predator’s first contact with a minor, but now the police had enough evidence to put him in jail without the Staples student testifying in court.

He is now in jail and will remain there for the next seven years.

The police warn people to contact them right away if ever contacted inappropriately by a stranger. Unless in immediate danger use the 311 non-emergency line.