Prosecutors warn parents about online safety after more than 100 predators arrested within the last year
SALT LAKE CITY – A warning to parents from the Salt Lake County DA’s Office, the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI. They say it’s as important as ever to speak with your kids about how they use social media and who they’re meeting.
Between September of last year and September of this year, prosecutors say they had arrested 80 people who were trying to entice children online. District Attorney Sim Gill says they teamed up with federal partners to hold four separate sting operations in October. He says the amount of arrests are alarming.
“Within that 30 day period, 30 predators were identified and arrested as part of that effort,” Gill says.
The list of suspects include people like James Richins, a convicted sex offender who was reportedly trying to entice someone under the age of 18 for sex. Another suspect is Dominic Fredricksen, who is facing four counts in federal court.
Gill says, “We had one predator that was arrested, convicted, did 210 days in jail, was released and within ten days was already picked up again for enticing, yet, a second child.”
Investigators these predators include people like teachers, clergy, athletes, fathers and mothers, and predators are on essentially every kind of social media platform.
“You’re children are probably on these platforms as we speak,” according to FBI Special Agent In Charge Paul Haertel.
Federal prosecutors say all parents have their kids’ best interest at heart, but there could be times when discussing social media activity can be extremely uncomfortable. However, US Attorney for Utah John Huber says the problem is too big for parents to ignore.
Huber says, “It netted 30 arrests (snap) like that. What does that tell you? That’s a barometer that tells you what kind of problem we have in Utah.”
He says online chats can go from “hello” to discussing sex in a shockingly short amount of time.
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