He says 28-year-old Charles Henry Ross was caught by the victim's mother in the child's bedroom. Ross ran out of the house but was later caught by the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.
Columbia, SC (WLTX) South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is warning parents and children about the dangers of the Internet after an accused online predator flew from California to South Carolina to have sex with a minor here. He says 28-year-old Charles Henry Ross was caught by the victim's mother in the child's bedroom. Ross ran out of the house but was later caught by the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.
"Predators on the Internet are real. They can get to anyone, and no one is above being a victim," Wilson said Tuesday.
He says Ross started chatting online with the South Carolina minor several months ago. Ross is charged with one count of Criminal Solicitation of a Minor, a felony that's punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He's also charged with two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Ross cannot leave the state and bond was set at $275,000.
Wilson says parents need to take action. "You can't just throw the computers out the window because this horrible incident happened. You can't lock your children away from the Internet. You have to be parents. You have to monitor them. You have to be engaged. You have to have a dialog with them. You have to know what applications are on their PDAs and their cell phones and their computers and their tablets," he says.
He says no particular app or program is any more dangerous than any other. They're all tools that can be good when used correctly, but potentially dangerous when children and teens give out too much personal information or chat with the wrong people.
For example, he explains how a 13-year-old girl posting a picture of herself in her football cheerleading uniform after a game could be dangerous.
"A predator who can get into her (page) and see that photo and see it out there on Twitter or whatever is going to be able to know that young lady is on this high school's junior varsity cheerleading squad and can go to that practice field the day that they're practicing and identify that young woman and follow her home," he says.
Posting a picture like that alone is not necessarily dangerous, as long as she knows everyone who has access to her pictures, so she should be sure she really knows who all of her "friends" are.
"You have to monitor their Internet use," Wilson advises parents. "Have the computer in a common area of the house, if you have younger children especially, since you can look over their shoulders. And don't ever think for a second that your child is the one child in the school that's not being irresponsible with the Internet."
The state has an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Its website has tips for parents, children, and teens on how to stay safe online. That website is www.SCKids.org.