Sheriff: Man found teenage victim online

May 10, 2010 4:18:27 PM PDT
A 26-year-old Arlington Heights man is accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl he met online.

Terrill Thomas is charged with one count of criminal sexual abuse in the alleged recent sexual assault, which took place a couple months ago. Thomas was not arrested until DNA evidence came back from the lab. He was convicted of a similar assault on a 15-year-old girl three years ago. He also met that girl online.

By the request of the victim's family, police are not identifying where the girl is from. Officials said they met on myyearbook.com, a social networking site specifically targeted to teenagers. Cook County sheriff's police say Thomas used the site to find a teenage girl with whom he could have sex.

"He went on it, misidentified his age, threw out sort of a wide net until he had someone connect with him," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Thomas allegedly sent numerous unsolicited messages to girls on myyearkbook.com. A 13-year-old girl responded. Sheriff Dart says Thomas and the girl began communicating by text message and the victim then gave Thomas her home address.

"Over the course of short period of time, (he) was able to finesse his way into coming to house when parents weren't around and having sex with her," said Sheriff Dart.

The 13-year-old girl's parents found out and called the police. To avoid leaving a computer finger print, Sheriff Dart says offenders who prey on teenagers online tend to use multiple public computers and text messages.

"The young kids have to be aware that the people on the other end of the internet are not telling the truth-- frequently not right picture, not the right age, not the right name and there are people out there who want to hurt them," said Sheriff Dart.

Sheriff Dart said parents should look over their child's shoulder; not let them have a phone with internet access; and keep the family computer in a central location instead of a child's bedroom.

Because of so many social networking sights, Sheriff Dart says these type of cases are on the rise.


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