I’ve written several articles about keeping your kids safe online, whether it be on the computer, on apps, or online gaming. And in those articles I have encouraged parents over and over again to be AWARE, be ALERT, be EDUCATED, and check your kids’ phone and computers!
But I never, ever considered a scenario in which the parent was also the online predator. Sadly, that has now come to pass, heaven help us.
A 41-year-old New York father admitted in court this week that he posed as a teenage boy online in order to trick his OWN DAUGHTER into sending him nude photos of herself. Syracuse.com says the man set up phony accounts with Instagram, AOL and a texting service in September 2013 under a fake name and began chatting online with his 14-year-old daughter, pretending to be a 16-year-old boy from Watertown, New York.
Note: His name is not being published to protect the identity of his minor daughter, the victim of a sex crime.
Even though the daughter never met this boy she was chatting with in person, they called each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. He soon began making requests for nude photos, and although she resisted at first, she eventually gave in, sending nude photos of herself to her own father without even knowing it. Her infatuation with him didn’t last long; by November, just two months after they began chatting, she told him she wanted to break up.
The psychological games this dad played on his own child are unfathomably cruel, and when she wanted to end the “relationship,” they just got worse.
“I tell u what u want to be gone then send me nudes and close ups and I will let u go,” is how he responded to her breakup request, still pretending to be a teenage boy.
“No,” she responded. “I’m not going to do that. That’s another reason I’m leaving. All you talk about is sex sex and more sex. Honestly that is not what a relationship is about.”
“Then I will send these to your dad and then I won’t have to worry about anyone else having u,” he wrote, referring to the child pornographic pictures she’d already sent him.
This dad’s next move was to send his daughter another text, pretending to be the fake boyfriend’s mother. The text said the boyfriend had committed suicide. The girl’s dad then confronted her, saying her boyfriend had sent him nude photos of her before he killed himself, and that he liked him.
THEN he began sexually abusing her.
To recap: this monster pretended to be a teen boy who wanted to be his daughter’s boyfriend, convinced her to send nude pictures to him, blackmailed her with the pictures, lied about the “boyfriend” committing suicide, and then used the pictures to SHAME her before he sexually ASSAULTED her.
Fortunately, after about a year, the daughter finally found the courage to go to her school nurse and tell her that her dad has been abusing her. Only then was she free from his torture. The case’s prosecutor asked the judge to consider the cruelty of a father doing this to his own child when she decided on a sentence.
“Keep in mind the relationship between the defendant and the victim in this case, which makes this all that much more egregious,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher told U.S. District Judge Brenda Sannes.
The abuser will face up to 250 years in prison when he is sentenced in July, and I can’t help but hope he is sentenced with every last one.
Reading this story frazzled me a bit, because although I am aware that most victims of sexual abuse are abused by someone they know, I had not heard of or considered the fact that a child’s friend or family member might also become the ONLINE predator. Parents, this is just one more reason to be checking your kids’ phones, computers, and other devices. If an abuser already KNOWS the child personally, how much easier is it for him to target the child online in order to extort nude photos or blackmail them into doing things they don’t want to do? A “family friend” for instance may know a child well enough to know that he or she would not respond to sexual advances in person or would be quick to tell a parent. However, if they use their knowledge of the child to coerce them into a fictitious online relationship, they can then use THAT to blackmail, guilt, or extort them to get what they want from their victim.
The bottom line: predators will go to great lengths to be able to abuse a child, and as I’ve said before, we have to be HYPER-VIGILANT to make sure it doesn’t happen to ours.