‘Sexual predators’ are using home consoles to ‘groom’ young children, according to a
Bizarrely, the article doesn’t report on any new cases – instead taking a look back a series of previous convictions with fresh comment from police officials.
"Child predators are migrating from traditional methods to alternate media," Detective Lt. Thomas Kish of the Michigan State Police told the publication. "They are going to places where children are."
According to Kish, predators view games that allow kids to access the Internet and text message other players as a "foot in the door”.
The article reports: ‘Police who have been doing stings in Internet chat rooms for years now are going undercover to catch predators playing interactive games, ranging from Grand Theft Auto to old-fashioned chess and checkers. They’re making arrests.’
The piece then quotes Lt. Jessica Farnsworth, field commander of the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, referencing a man in Utah, US, who ‘was charged this year with sexual exploitation of a minor for enticing a 12-year-old boy he met through an online game into having sex’.
Farnsworth adds that predators meet kids on a game, "groom them and then try to move off the game."
‘In December, Michigan prosecutors convicted Adam Glenn Schroeder of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and using a computer to commit a crime. He used a game, World of Warcraft, to lure a 12-year-old girl into having sex with him. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Police had found Schroeder on other games. "This guy had been doing it for a while," Kish says.
‘In another case, Kish says, a 10-year-old boy playing the Halo Xbox game got a video message from a man that showed the adult engaged in a sex act.
‘Farnsworth says her office has seized many Xbox machines for investigation and has received training from the maker, Microsoft, on how to extract text messages and other information from them.
‘Microsoft trains police at national conferences, says Tim Cranton, associate general counsel for the company’s Worldwide Internet Safety Enforcement program
‘Cranton says the Xbox has password-protected "family settings" that allow parents to turn off Internet access or track content and contacts. PlayStation and Wii also have such controls.’