News

Grafton 12-year-old talked, sent photos to online predator

A CLARENCE Valley mother has been left sickened after finding email conversations between her 12-year-old daughter and a 59-year-old American sexual predator she met online.

The series of emails between the local adolescent, Jessica*, and a person posing as a 14-year-old boy began on an online chat room website Omegle.com, which boasts that users can "talk with strangers".

Mum Sarah* traced the incoming emails back to an account registered in the name of Gary Daniel Belflower, a convicted sex offender in Iowa in the United States.

Posing as a young teenager, Belflower had asked Jessica a series of inappropriate questions about her knowledge of sex, sexual acts and whether she enjoyed seeing adults having sex.

Despite Jessica knowing well enough to conceal her identity by lying about her name, birth date and home town, Belflower was still able to convince her to swap photos of herself with him.

"He was telling her how beautiful she was and how lovely she looked," Sarah said. "She was playing in to it, just as a vulnerable 12-year-old would do.

"He was saying all these things about how he wished he was her neighbour, he wished he could kiss her and he wished he was her boyfriend.

"I was totally freaking out. She knows better than this."

When Sarah found the sickening emails she was quick to contact Jessica's father, a former partner, who confronted Jessica along with Sarah.

"We confronted her together," Sarah said. "We were united in this, we met her together and just talked to her about how silly she had been. We told her about the dangers of talking with strangers online and how much of a bad situation she could have found herself in."

Determined to get justice, Sarah has sent all of her evidence to detectives in Iowa.

* Names changed for privacy

Topics:  editors picks sex offender sexual predator



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