communicated with online. Ms. Kean has not seen her daughter since. She says, “The Internet has got to be the pedophile’s dream come true. They stalk children without concern of being seen.” 88
The preceding cases occurred in the United States, but such cases are known to have occurred in other countries. According to Chris Beddoe of End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking, there have been cases of sex predators using the Internet to meet children in Australia, also. 89
Predators searching for child victims visit chat rooms dedicated to topics of interest to teens. The perpetrator initiates a conversation, many times not revealing his own age, or pretending to be another child of similar age. The perpetrator initiates a process of seduction by engaging the teenager in discussion with increasingly personal content and shared confidences, thereby gaining her or his trust. Predators who prey are children are often very charming and easily win children’s trust. Often the perpetrator will return to that chat room day after day to continue gathering more information about the girl or boy. The predator will lower the child’s inhibitions by talking about sex, often under the guise of teaching the teen about sex. The perpetrator will send pornography to the child, including child pornography to convince the child that other children are sexually active. He may ask the girl or boy to send pictures of herself or himself. At this point, the perpetrator is sexually exploiting the teen emotionally. Eventually, the perpetrator sets-up a face to face meeting and moves on to physical sexual exploitation and abuse.
The actual number of sex predators online, the number children they have contacted, the number of physical meetings that have taken place, or the number of cases of sexual exploitation is impossible to know and even very difficult to estimate.
Interstate Travel by Predators
In 1996 and 1997 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States was involved in 60 cases in which men used the Internet to contact children and entice the children to meet them.90
Reginald Franklin, 29, from Nevada was arrested on federal charges of travel with the intent to engage in sexual acts with a juvenile in Texas. The 14-year-old boy met him in an Internet chat room. Franklin came to the boy’s school and signed to take him out of school. 91
A 12-year-old boy, missing for several weeks from his California home, was found across the country in the Virginia home of a man he met in a chat room. The boy had been sexually abused. He had been persuaded over the Internet to take a bus to meet the man. 92
A 22-year-old man from New Hampshire, US contacted numerous teenage girls through chat rooms on the Internet in an effort to get them to meet him. In one case he convinced a 13-year-old girl to go with him. He called her school, pretending to be her father, and told school authorities she was sick and would not be in school that day. He evaded police for three weeks as he drove the two of them across several states in New England. Kier Fiore was arraigned in US District Court in Concord on felony charges that he crossed state lines to avoid prosecution and engage in two misdemeanor charges of taking the girl