14 December 2005
**updated** 03 february 2006
MySpace.com Subject of Sex Assault Probe
Feb 03 2:23 AM US/Eastern
Police are investigating whether as many as seven teenage girls have been sexually assaulted by men they met through the popular Web site MySpace.com.
The girls, ages 12 to 16, are from Middletown and say they were fondled or had consensual sex with men who turned out to be older than they claimed. None of the incidents appeared to be violent, said Middletown Police Sgt. Bill McKenna.
He said it was difficult to determine the exact number of victims because some girls have been reluctant to disclose that they met their assailants online.
The social networking Web site allows users to create profiles that can include photos, personal information and even cell phone numbers.
In a statement Thursday, MySpace.com said it was committed to providing a safe environment for its users. The site, which includes safety tips, also prohibits use by anyone younger than 14, though a disclaimer says the people who run the site can't always tell if users are lying about their ages.
On the Net:
Officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Office computer crime squad issued a warning Friday about a popular teen Web site, Local 6 News reported.
MySpace.com is a free Web site available to anyone 14 years and older, offering Web logs, e-mail, Web forums and groups. On the site, a person posts a profile with photos and personal information, which then becomes public.
Authorities said many teens are posting racy photos and exchanging information with other Web users.
The danger is that predators can find the teen in their ZIP code and begin communication, according to Local 6 News reporter Vanessa Medina.
"A lot of information they post on MySpace will give these people clues if not outright directions to where they are, Orange County computer crimes Sgt. Kevin Stenger said. "Some of the photographs they post on there, if not outright lewd, are very suggestive. It is a danger."
MySpace.com is not monitored or filtered, according to the report.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office computer crimes unit has received many complaints about the Web site.
Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.
Posted by wst... at 20:53