Rape arrest renews warnings regarding sex predators online

Rape suspect's arrest renews warnings of stranger dangers online

(SAVANNAH) The arrest of a man accused of statutory rape is shining a spotlight on the dangers strangers can pose online. Savannah Chatham Metro Police say the underage alleged victim met her attacker on the internet. The suspect in the case is twenty three and the victim is younger than sixteen. The reported attack occurred near Whitefield Avenue in Savannah Sunday, December 4, 2016. Police say it appears the attacker and his victim became acquainted online.

23 year old Phillip Sadler was arrested in the 5500 Block of Abercorn Street in Savannah. He’s being charged with statutory rape and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Sadler was arrested without incident and and transported to the Chatham County Detention Center without incident.
The reported meeting of an underage girl and a 23 year old man in Savannah is renewing warnings to teens and their parents about the danger that lurks in cyberspace. WSAV Crime Expert, Gerry Long, says parents need to be vigilant about monitoring exactly what their teens are up to online. “You can block those apps on their phone from downloading. You can do all of that. As they get older, those are just some long and extensive conversations that you have to have and sometimes, very hard conversations before this type of thing happens.” Long said.

Long, a retired major with 30 years experience with Savannah-Chatham Metro Police, says real-world dangers online is a discussion every parent should have with their kids. Long shares her advice for those parents who are unsure about when to initiate the conversation about stranger dangers online. “When young men and women begin establishing relationships, you need, they are, at that point ready to have very specific conversations about what sexual assault is, what can happen, how you, how you stay safe, how you identify what are safe relationships, and what are the triggers? Things that should trigger your concern.” Said Long, who adds that there are a lot of young people who don’t realize that the person they have connected with on the internet may not be who they think they are. “The most important thing is, is that what is depicted to you as far as a screen shot, what they look like, how old they are, what they do, it can be absolutely false and created.” Long said.

Without having a serious conversation about the hazards of bringing an online connection into a real-world setting, young people can be left in a dangerous situation. Long says parents who are in denial about what they’re kids are into online can leave those children vulnerable to predators in cyberspace. “You can say, well, my kids aren’t having sex so I don’t need to talk to them about birth control, or my kids aren’t having sex so I don’t need to talk to them about somebody who’s going to take advantage, ya’ know, Sorry! ya’ know, maybe they’re not, but you need to have those conversations because they are old enough to know…and if you’re not having those conversations with ’em, they’re friend’s are.” said Long.

Long says it’s vital to talk with young people about the dangers of bringing an online relationship into the real world. She says it needs to be a very candid conversation about the risks sugarcoating the danger doesn’t diminish it or prepare teens for what’s out there. She acknowledges that it can be tougher these days to keep up with all of a teenagers internet connections, but that observation could save some heartache. even in the mobile age it is still possible to keep up with what your kids are doing on the internet. Long says there are parental blocks available for internet sites and for apps you feel are inappropriate for your child’s phone too.

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