A man has been charged after allegedly grooming a teenage girl online and meeting with her for sex in the Hunter region.
Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation following reports a 15-year-old girl had been sexually and indecently assaulted by a man she met online last month.
Police will allege in court that the pair met on a social media application designed for teenagers, where the man purported to be aged 17. They engaged in conversation before arranging to meet in person.
The man later advised he was aged 27, and the pair met in the Newcastle area on Saturday 29 September 2018, and allegedly had sex.
The incident was reported to local police last week before being referred to the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad for further investigation.
Following inquiries, detectives arrested a 35-year-old man at a home unit at Valentine about 7am yesterday (Monday 15 October 2018).
Shortly after the arrest, investigators executed a search warrant at the unit, before executing a crime scene warrant at a home at Whitebridge.
During the searches, police seized a number of items relevant to the investigation.
The man was taken to Belmont Police Station and charged with nine counts of sexual intercourse with person aged 14-16, two counts of indecent assault-person under 16, groom child for unlawful sexual activity, meet with child groomed for sexual activity, and use carriage service to plan for sex-person under 16.
He was refused bail and appeared at Toronto Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Tuesday 30 October 2018.
Meanwhile, police are urging parents and carers to speak with their children about staying safe online.
Safe internet use – tips for parents:
• Be aware of how much time your child spends on the internet.
• Spend time talking to your child about the dangers associated with online conversations, particularly when communicating with someone that they have only ever met online.
• Spend time exploring the internet with your children and let them teach you about their favourite websites and applications.
• Keep computers or internet-enabled devices in a room the whole family can access, not in your child’s bedroom; monitor internet access on those devices.
• Consider installing filtering and/or computer blocking software provided by your internet service provider.
• Ensure you are able to access your child’s email and social media accounts and randomly check the contents.
• Check your phone bill for unusual outgoing calls and consider using ‘caller ID’ to identify incoming calls.
• Consult your telephone company for options designed to ensure privacy and security.
• Enquire with your child’s school, public library, and places they frequent to find out what internet safety measures they have in place.
• Information on internet safety is available on the NSW Police website at: http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/safety_and_prevention/safe_and_secure/online_safety
Tips for children:
• Do not send a picture of yourself to anyone you don’t know and never place a full profile and picture anywhere on the internet.
• Never give out your personal information, including full name, home address, phone number or school, over the internet.
• Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone that you have only ever chatted with on the internet.
• Tell your parents or another adult you know of any contact that makes you feel uncomfortable.
• Think carefully before uploading or sending images or videos to people over the internet. Once you press ‘send’ it’s definite and final – you can’t get it back or take it down.
• Information on youth issues, including online safety is available on the NSW Police website at:
More information and educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/
The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au
Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. People should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.