Teen accused of using social media to exploit minors, new kind of sexual predator says authorities

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (KRON) — A Fayetteville teen is facing multiple charges of the sexual exploitation of minors.

The rise in popularity of social media and online chatting has created a new kind of sexual predator, authorities say.

Kids on the internet are getting pulled into dangerous situations and putting themselves at risk, according to law enforcement.

The North Carolina teen, 17, is an honor student at his high school, and his parents say he’s innocent, according to a report by WNCN.

“The parents had no idea that this was going on. They let us take the computer and search the computer and they brought the young man in for an interview,” said Sean Swain with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

The teen used Twitter to meet his victims, then would convince them to send him sexual images, according to Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

The sexually explicit pictures and videos of minors were stored on his computer.

As young, impressionable kids are getting cellphones and computer access earlier and earlier, investigators say crimes of this nature will increase, said Carleigh Griffeth of WNCN.

With so many social media sites and apps, it is difficult for law enforcement to monitor them all. Many agencies now have departments dedicated to online crimes, according to WNCN.

“Our cyber crimes [department] was actually developed for this particular type case where someone would solicit kids to send videos or pictures of themselves,” said Swain.

Investigators say it’s also the responsibility of parents to keep their children safe by monitoring their online activity.

“Be aware of who he’s talking to and what he’s putting out there because children don’t realize what they put on there now may show up in the future, especially when they’re looking for jobs,” said Leslie Workman, parent of a Fayetteville-area high school student, to Griffeth.

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