An Anaheim man was arrested in a sting operation on charges he targeted a Santa Clarita teen for a sexual relationship using Kik, a popular instant messaging service.
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Jason Brett Walsh, 44, pleaded not guilty Monday to 21 counts Tuesday, according to a representative with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.16:35:48
Sheriff’s Department officials suspect him of conducting a yearlong relationship with “a girl under the age of 16,” said Sgt. Brian Hudson, who leads the Santa Clarita/Antelope valley unit for the Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Walsh last week, when he was supposed to meet the alleged victim, Hudson said.
“(Walsh) drove from his residence in Anaheim on Thursday to Santa Clarita, believing he was going to meet the victim again,” Hudson said. “When he arrived at the location, he was met by the SCV Special Victims Bureau and brought into custody.”
The charges include contact with a minor for sexual offense, sending/bringing obscene material into the state for sale, sending harmful matter to a minor, possession of child pornography, meeting minor for lewd purposes, oral copulation with a child under the age of 18, sexual penetration with a foreign object and using a minor for sex acts.
Kik is a free social media app that now claims more than 150 million users, according to its website.
“(The investigation) involved a case where he had met an underage female in Santa Clarita via online messaging,” Hudson said. “As a result of that meeting, he engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with her on several occasions.”
After the parents became aware of the relationship, they notified Sheriff’s Department officials, who then began an investigation, Hudson said.
Detectives believe the Santa Clarita girl was Walsh’s only victim, Hudson said.
Walsh, whose occupation was listed as sales, is being held in lieu of $1.09 million bail. He’s due back in court Sept. 26 for a preliminary hearing.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Deputy Josh Dubin discussed Kik and some of the dangers associated with unmonitored social media activity on “Neighborhood Watch,” a twice-monthly radio show and podcast that will air again Thursday on KHTS AM-1220.
The city also has hosted a series of workshops aimed at raising awareness about the access children have to harmful materials online through cellphones and other mobile devices, using the Internet and social media.
Related: Santa Clarita, Sheriff’s Deputy To Talk About Cellphones, Sexting, Social Media For Parents
The average teen sends about 50 text messages per day, according to information presented by the Sheriff’s Department. More than 1-in-5 high school students take part in sexting, or sending sexually explicit messages — and the number rises to 1-in-3 by the time those same students are legally adults at college a few years later.
From a previous story:
The most important premise of Dubin’s presentation, which included a talk from Detective Robert Uribe of the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau, contained two main principles, he said.
“Principle No. 1, you are the parents, you pay the bill, you own the phone, tablet or computer, and therefore you have the right and the responsibility to be a responsible watchdog,” Dubin said. “Principle No. 2: Get out of denial and learn to check up on your kids.”
A growing number of the cases in the Special Victims Bureau involving children sending inappropriate messages via electronic devices, Uribe said.
“About 15 percent to 20 percent of our cases now include sexting of one type or another,” Uribe said. And even when a teen thinks something has been deleted, law enforcement officials can usually find the information.
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Source: Santa Clarita News