Monday, June 02, 2008

Utterly Speechless and Disgusted…

Wednesday began like any other - I was listening to NPR on the way to work and then heard something that went like this:

A federal grand jury has indicted a 33-year-old man on dozens of charges, accusing him of posing on the Internet as a teenager so he could molest at least 10 underage girls….

…using social networking sites such as MySpace.com and MyYearbook.com "to convince high school-age girls to have sex with him and pose for pornographic pictures," U.S. Attorney's office spokesman said…

…Monrovia police Lt. Richard Wagnon called the molestation case of Gregory S. S.'s one of the worst he has ever seen. (Full story here and AP here, FBI Release here.)

I nearly ran off the freeway in a mixture of shock and complete disgust. Greg was my best friend from 7th-12th grade.
I haven’t talked to him in well over 6-7 years. And when we did talk it was a brief conversation that didn’t go well. We had a falling out between senior year in High School and first year of college over a few things:
He got involved in a multi-level marketing insurance scam and became really aggressive about recruiting every member of my family, he was hanging out with these two sleazy cheese balls that I didn’t get along with, and oh yeah and there was “this girl” that he knew I was interested in and decided to move in on because of it.

An old friend from High School that I still keep in contact with called me a few months ago saying the FBI had called her asking her questions about Greg. They were calling everybody on his cell phone. They didn’t give much information to her about what he was being investigated for. Then I had heard from a few others in the weeks ahead and thought I would be getting a call soon. I never did.
The first thing that came to mind about this investigation was his involvement in the ponzi-insurance thing. I don’t think anybody had a clue about him being a child predator.

And then I looked at his MySpace, Windows Live, Friendster, and the most disturbing Netlog pages after getting emails from the old network of friends.
Looking through those had to be one of the most frightening things I’ve ever read. His life, pictures, so-called friends - but especially him posing as a 17-19 year old. He became this person I don't even know anymore.
Another old friend sent me the indictment, I couldn't read through it all because I began feeling sick after the 9th or 10th count... some of these girls were as young as 13. It's all truly disgusting.

This whole thing has me thinking constantly about a few things:
What if that thing back in H.S. didn’t happen or I just ignored it - would we have still been friends? Would he have been around my family or…. (gasp) daughter! I can’t even imagine… What if there was something I could have done to prevent this? Maybe I could have helped him? Maybe he didn’t have a real friend around telling him that this is completely and utterly wrong. Can pedophiles like this even be helped? From what I’ve heard he was still hanging out with those jerk guys from High School. I’m sure he told one of them about this, he liked to brag about everything… why didn’t they say something? What if those guys are doing the same thing? Out of the 10 (currently known) girls that he molested, why did only 1 tell her parents??

How many of these guys are out there right now trying to lure children?

That’s the one that keeps me up at night right now.
One thing I can say with absolute certainty I’m keeping track of EVERYTHING my daughter does and WHO she communicates with - especially when it comes to the internet.

48 comments:

mama speak said...

Dude, I'm so sorry about this. I mean, that it's hitting so close to home cause that's what really makes you sick about it right? I am glad you did have that falling out and he was nowhere near your family.

AND, this was your wake up call: EVERY DAY you need to check into what your daughter is doing on the internet. Your computer NEEDS to be in a "family area" (not in her bedroom). You need to APPROVE anyone she's conversing with online. AND you need to make sure she isn't going onto sites you haven't given permission over. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. One of my best friend's has a teen girl. She's a good kid, but her mom does this follow up routine and caught her having set up a myspace account or something similar. Mom's caught it w/in 24 hours each time, but this was one of the "good" kids. And they can go to the school library to go around you, so you have to stay on top of it. It's a lot of work, but these preditors are everywhere and they aren't playing by the rules.
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Wow. That is truly scary.

I agree with mama speak. As parents, we've got to do more than think our kids are the 'good' ones and would never get involved in something like this. Those pre-teen years are brutal on self-esteem.

SciFi Dad said...

Dude, I actually have an idea what you're going through. Last month my BIL told me about a buddy of his from high school who I knew (he was one of the first people I knew to get Windows95 in beta... I was over at his place with my BIL numerous times) who had just been taken in by the RCMP (yes, the mounties are our FBI) for possession of child porn. I don't think he molested any boys (the stuff was all homoerotic) but I don't know the state of the investigation.

It's scary shit. It's easy to make yourself believe that pedophiles are strange people who you'd easily identify by their shady goatee and stained tank top and greasy hair, people you'd never associate with. But the reality is it could be anyone.

I've got nothing else to say, really.

Whirlwind said...

It's a scary world. That's one of my biggest concerns with raising three daughters.

But we are the type of parents who know where are kids are and who they are with at all times. And 98% of the time they are with us (or at school).

Sue said...

Ugh. How disturbing. No, of course there's nothing you could have done, even if you were still friends - predetors don't talk about that stuff.

I have 2 girls and just made the "no computer in the bedroom" rule and she's only 10.

BritneyMarie said...

I've been kind of lurking around your blog for a while now. This type of thing is what I'm going to school for. There is a website http://www.familywatchdog.us/ that is a national sex offender registry. If you input your address it will email you everytime a sex offender moves near you or works near you or even moves away from you. It has been very helpful for my family and friends. I hope you take advantage of this service.

Ben & Bennie said...

Like BritneyMarie a few years ago another parent recommended that I check our state's sex crime registry. She said I'd probably be surprised at how close to home I'd find one. What I didn't expect was to find a neighbor's address less than a block away.

Although it was a situation like Sci Fi Dad's it still creeped us out. You better believe I have at least one eye on my daughter every time she's outside.

Becky said...

Not to be all psychological on this or anything, but I have heard that most pedophiles have themselves been violated in some way...so I don't think that his course would have changed by anything you could have done.

I know the feeling of "what if I had..." well, though. When finding out about 6 divorces in our extended circle of friends recently, I wondered..."what if I had only been a better friend."

Thankfully he is being put away and won't be able to prey on little girls anymore.

I tell you what...this is a lesson for all of us with kids to know how they spend their time.

Glad I am the paranoid mom that I am.

The Maid

Tismee2 said...

Even though I have boys, I thank God that my eldest spends all his time up in his room on his x box or watching TV. He does have his own computer but that is limited and there is a filter on it.

At first I hoped he didn't turn into a geeky kind of boy, thinking he should be out there hanging out with his friends. Now I'm glad I know where he is at night.
But it's so sad we have to do this to keep our kids safe these days isn't it?

Sorry you had to have an experience like this though.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Holy crap.

First off? Quit wondering about the "what ifs." Those didn't happen and you and your daughter are OK.

Secondly? Wow, I just don't have the words. It's always a punch in the gut to find out a friend/former friend isn't the person you thought they were. I'm glad he's off the streets. One down, so many more to go.

the weirdgirl said...

That is crazy and scary both! Sorry you're going through this. I don't think you should beat yourself up; what could you have done besides turn him in? (If he let you find out.) You probably had an unconscious instinct all along and dropped him at the right time.

I imagine any "friends" he was bragging to were those lowlife types that tell themselves, "Those girls know what they're doing". Sickos.

The Father of Five said...

I too had a college friend (at least 5 years) whom I later discovered dealt with a deviant and predatory sexual appetite. He was quite fond of computer images, chatting, and "make believe" - and (the worst part...) his step-daughter.

I was shocked, and our group of friends were shaken to the core when his wife called us with the word of his arrest.

After serving his sentence and ongoing therapy, he is out again. Hopefully with the tools needed to keep himself away from those types of situations.

He was a good friend to me for many years, and I told him I would be there to help him through his "troubles" in any way I could, but made it clear that under NO circumstances was he to be around or communicate with my children. I set up guidelines on how we could stay in touch, and if he ever needed help, how he could get a hold of me..

We still email each other a few times a year... but, he has moved far enough away that getting together is pretty difficult. (Maybe that is for the best...)

It was a very traumatic event, that still sticks with me today (when I really think about it)... Don't expect that this will ease up on your psyche for some time to come... Oh, it becomes less prominent, but it sort of always "lingers" there - showing it's ugly head from time to time..

Don't question YOUR actions regarding what had happened... We all are masters of our own destiny, and we have free will to choose to do right or wrong. In my experience (working for a police department) people who are going to do wrong, are going to do wrong... that is why so many of their friends (who are not "criminal") are "shocked" to hear what has happened.

Lisa said...

Ugh! That's awful!

Whit said...

Wow, that's insane.

I really don't know that someone like that can be helped, but I wouldn't beat yourself up over it. I'm just glad you separated yourself when you did.

Amrita said...

I know how shocking it must be to read how one of your school mates turned out to be. You never know whom we rub soulders with.

God 's grace is on us otherwise each human being has a capacity to sin.

What ypu say about his friends not stopping him from indulding in such activities is true. If you see someone engaing in an anti-social act, please stop him/her.
Better are the rebukes of a friend than the kisses of an enemy, King Solomon said.

The Internet is a good slave but a bad master.

Beck said...

Awful.
And the husband of a high school friend was recently arrested for the same thing. Some people are freaks.

Nicole P said...

Wow, that is quite disturbing. I can see why this is bothering you so much.
Just this past weekend, my husband gave his 17 year old daughter a huge lecture about myspace and facebook. She lives with my husband's ex, so there's not much else he can do beside give her talks.

Don't torture yourself too much over this. You could not help that the guy is a sick bastard. I doubt that you would have been able to change anything.
All you can ever really do is take care of your own.

dennis said...

I know how you feel. Imagine now that shortly after his death you learn how your grandfather cozied up to some of your cousins...

One thing I am focusing on now is really trying to bring my imps up to not fear speaking up or saying what's on their minds, no matter when or what subject...

wheelsonthebus said...

I don't know much, but I do know there is nothing you could have done to prevent him from doing this.

Protecting our children is terrifying. We want to bundle them up to keep them safe, but we also don't want to tie them to a pole (although on days like this, you probably feel like it).

Cathy Burke said...

SO sad! I have boys but I worry about them too. I try to stay present and involved but I can't be there every second.

Be happy you trusted your gut and ditched this loser long ago. Teach your daughter to speak up and trust her gut too. The internet is tricky -it is a great way to communicate but there is always the possibility of something like this.

Yikes!

radioactive girl said...

Oh my! That is really scary!

My daughter has a laptop but she can only use it when I am around. I routinely check her email and the sites she visits. It is so much easier now to get in trouble than it was when I was young. Computers are both a blessing and a curse.

creative-type dad said...

radioactive girl -- I'd definitely do the same thing.

The Father of Five -- That is frightening. I don't think I could ever keep in contact with somebody like that. This is one of those things I could easily justify cutting all communication. The risks are too great.

BritneyMarie -- Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many men in their later 20's and possibly older hit on me me when I was as young as 14-16, KNOWING how young I was. It sadly happens a lot more than people know. If you've ever watched "To Catch a Predator" you'll see just how sick and desperate a lot of these arse holes are--some you would NEVER have imagined. Plus I was a social worker and I can't tell you how many of my client were molested and raped and didn't tell their parents, it's sickening.
TALK WITH YOUR DAUGHTER. Don't overprotect her to the point where she becomes naive and doesn't know what lurks out there. I hate to sound so pessimistic, but there are a lot men who will do what they can to get at young, pretty girls, so the best thing to do is to arm her with knowledge and skills to know when to get out of a bad situation.
OH, and be wary of male martial arts instructors, or ANY adult males who have access to your daughter. Remember, most children are molested by people they and their parents KNOW.

Arwen said...

My mom used to run a teen parenting program. It allowed both girls and boys who were parents and teenagers to finish high school. In 10 years there was only one boy. Why? Because most of the father's were in their twenties. Most of the girls were impregnated under the age of 16.
It's pretty sick.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

That would really mess me up.

I wonder if any of my childhood friends are sexual predators.

Stacie said...

it is sick... and as you said, there are probably many more out there like him.

Thank goodness you AREN'T friends with him anymore and that he was NOWHERE near your child.

lotus07 said...

People change over time, sometimes for the better, many times for the worse. He obviously had issues and was a thrill seeker who couldn't channels his needs in an appropriate direction. Not much you could have done. Individuals can't make much of a differene in instances like this. Societies can, but that takes a long time and a shared goal with proper funding (something foriegn in this country since 1940). The sad face of modern life, is that with the dawn of the internet and instantious gratification and anonimity, this sort of thing is going to become more and more common.....watch your daughter.

Anonymous said...

This post made me so sad. When I was a teenager there was a period here in Toronto where we were scared to walk alone because of a sexual predator. The fact that it is so much easier for people like him to hide on the internet scares the crap out of me.

I don't have kids yet, but I watch my friends who do (both daughters and sons) and worry what the world will be when they are older.

painted maypole said...

it's so scary... and then to have it hit so close to home. eek.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Ugh. So sickening and too close to home. You just never know.

Vigilance, Tony. Vigilance.

steph in ak said...

Bizarre! It must have been so shocking to get the news in the way you did too.

(P.S. combining entry comments here...I think your wife should get you a "behind-the-scenes at KFC" tour for Father's Day, similar to the "cook your own dinner" deal that Benihana's has going right now...just imagine yourself pressing the button that plunges the popcorn chicken into the fryer...and it would benefit her as well. Likely, you'd never be able to eat there again, lol.)

Kevin T. said...

It's tough when someone you know turns out to be someone you really don't know.

A couple years ago I started getting some nasty comments on my previous blog. When I did some digging I found out they were coming from one of the neighborhood pals I hung out with as a teenager. The more shocking revelation was that he had been convicted of public indecency and was listed on a sheriff's internet list for past offenders. We hadn't been in contact for years, and it turned into my first lesson in banning IP addresses.

Diana said...

oh my god that is some scary shit.
I had recently been sent the website where you punch in your address and it shows who around you had been convicted of what...
I'll have to dig that up and send it to you.
When things like this are so close....***shudder***

Diana said...

Here it is:

http://www.felonspy.com/search.html

just type in your address and see what pops up. Where we live it isn't too bad...but it doesn't show what people's intentions are (obviously) and it only shows people who have been convicted, not people who haven't gotten caught yet. I wish it did...I wish it was a mind reader ...

creative-type dad said...

diana - thanks. Some of the results put criminals living at car dealerships in my area.

Anonymous - 14-16?! That's scary.

Jenster said...

That's horrifying!

My husband used to be a "cyber cop" and worked with the FBI & Homeland Security to keep his company's system safe from terrorists (he's in the electricity sector and it's on HS's top ten list of terrorist threats). He was at the FBI offices in Little Rock one time and got to watch them "catch" one of those sleazy men. The agent was posing as a 14-year-old girl and chatting with this horrible, horrible man. Todd said he was nauseous at the things the man was saying to her. They set up a time to meet and he found out two days later they had caught the slimeball.

All that being said - we have a 13-year-old daughter and, unfortunately for her, it's a bit like Big Brother around here. But she's cool with it because she knows it's not being nosey, it's being safe!

Anonymous said...

Um... Felon Spy is a hoax. See? http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/felonspy.asp

And so sorry that you had to have this hit so close to home. After being naive myself, I was molested at age 8. No internet then, but I think it's even easier for the creeps to get to our kids these days.

Please be careful and watch your children every. single. day. (Mama Speak said it best!)

Artist Unplugged said...

Disgusting and very frightening. Cannot be too careful with your children....my daughter is just weeks shy of 15 and we are still very strict with her. Sadly, she is still scared of her own shadow due to all the horrific news but I know she takes our protective measures to heart........you have many years of protecting ahead of you. Try to educacate without totally scaring the daylight out of her as she grows up!

creative-type dad said...

Anonymous -- That's just a tragedy...I can't even imagine.

Artist Unplugged -- That is a difficult line. I don't want my daughter to be paranoid, but I want to be sure she's protected and safe.

Pixie said...

Wow. This is a very timely post for us. We just found out our neighbor has been sexually assaulting other girls in the neighborhood for a year and a half. And he's a police officer. It just goes to show you that you never know... this kind of thing can happen to any of us.

Thank God your family (especially your daughter) are alright.

The Real Mother Hen said...

4 in 10 Americans would do harm to others if they think they can get away with it - a survey said.
These people could be perfectly normal, yet would do anything to do harm others in a second.
It is sick.
The world is becoming a crazier place.

Mama DB said...

holy cow.

I don't sleep sometimes thinking about my kids as well. There are so many sick sick people out there it is hard to think that I can protect my son and daughter.

I guess you just arm them with the information and do things like have the computer out in the living room and monitor what's going, all the while, allowing them to grow up.

From what I've seen on Dateline, there are tons of these people out there. And they keep coming, even when they suspect something's up. I don't understand it.

On a side note (meant to make you chuckle but it is late and it probably will only come across as inappropriate but...) in college, I was in the student lounge, with a friend, watching Dateline or some other news magazine. They were profiling a teen killer. They scrolled down a yearbook page and right next to this teen killer's picture was my friend's picture. Apparently they used to sit together in homeroom. He freaked out.

creative-type dad said...

Mama DB -- Wow, that is creepy. That's just another thing to worry about.

wayabetty said...

OH!MY!GOODNESS!! Tony!! That is just horrific! I can't even imagine how you must have felt hearing about that! I don't think you or anybody else can help someone as sick as this! And you're right, we are watching everything that the kids do. If there's a GPS that we can put on their shoes...we would! It's a sick sick world out there!!

womaninawindow said...

Never vigilent enough. I said this somewhere else today and it seems even more relevant here. Our kids are on the internet at school. I wonder about the monitoring that's done while there.

h&b said...

Things like this hit cold to the stomach, don't they ? Your whole world starts to look scary.

Much less than your scare, but a good girlfriend 12yrs ago was going out with a guy I thought was kinda weird. She married him, had a couple of kids.

Last year, there he was on the news. He'd been posing over the internet and luring underage girls into his sex trap too.

It just hit home, because he's in my wedding album dude, and he married my friend and had babies with her :(

I'm so glad you had that falling out with your friend.

muskrat said...

wow. does he know you posted his links online? i can't imagine. i've heard atlanta leads the world in child sex slave trafficking. scary to know it's right down the street.

on a happy note, i like your blog and am totally adding you to my roll, dude. that was me getting california on you.

creative-type dad said...

muskrat -- Atlanta?! That's just sick and disturbing...