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Mar 7, 2006

Men charged with having sex with girls they met on Internet


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. --A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted two men who prosecutors say used the Web site MySpace.com to set up sexual encounters with underage Connecticut girls.


In one case, Sonny Szeto, 22, traveled from Jersey City, N.J., to Connecticut in October and molested an 11-year-old girl in her playroom while her parents slept upstairs, according to an FBI affidavit.

In the other case, Stephen Letavec, 39, molested a 14-year-old Connecticut girl in his car while visiting from Elrama, Pa., in October, according to another FBI report. The FBI said Letavec made several visits to see the girl between last summer and January.

MySpace, a division of NewsCorp., offers a free way for users to meet any of more than 60 million members. Searching by hometown, alma mater or interest, old friends can reconnect, musicians and filmmakers can find audiences and donors can find causes.

But in the past month, authorities nationwide have expressed concern that the searching options that make the site popular also put children at risk for abuse.

Police in Middletown are investigating recent reports that as many as seven local girls were sexually assaulted by men in their 20s who contacted them through MySpace pretending to be teenagers.

The grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging Szeto, now of Queens, N.Y., with one count of using the Internet to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity and one count of traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of attempting to have and having illicit sexual contact with a minor. Each charge carries a prison term of five to 30 years.

Letavec was charged with one count of using the Internet to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity and three counts of traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of attempting to have and having illicit sexual contact with a minor.

In a recent interview, MySpace Chief Executive Officer Chris DeWolfe said the Web site remains safe and encouraged parents to teach children the same commonsense rules on the Internet that they follow in the real world.

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Posted: Mar 7, 2006 6:48pm

 

 
 
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Harold Self
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