Monster In A Web Of Abuse
A PAEDOPHILE used internet dating services to seek out single
mothers, then drugged them and sexually abused their children.
The Sydney man, who cannot be named, will face court over a
string of child sex offences later this month.
The man registered fake descriptions of himself on major
internet dating websites, including Lavalife, which recently
formed a joint venture with ninemsn.
"It appears this alleged offender drugged the adults to get
access to the children," police sex crimes squad chief Vivienne
Crawford told The Daily Telegraph.
"This particular [person] went through all the internet sites
and a number of the major services to find information."
The case is just one example of the rising dangers of internet
dating, as more than one million Australians log on every day to
find their perfect match.
Members range from the unemployed to company executives. Some
are looking for penfriends, while others push their cyber dates
to meet for a drink or dinner after just a few hours at the
Acting Chief Inspector Crawford warned lonely hearts not to
place their trust in people they met online, regardless of
how compatible they seemed.
"There is definitely a degree of danger in meeting people
this way," she said.
"You think you're having a conversation with a potential
partner, but you have no way of telling whether it might
be a male or female. We have had complaints of people being
sexually abused by predators they've met online."
Police are also investigating cases of prisoners reaching
out to online romantics from behind bars, a scenario that
could see people hand over their address or phone number to
Internet dating is now the preferred way for singles to find
romance but police are only now beginning to realise the risks.
The most popular site, RSVP, boasts more than 613,000 members.
More than half are between 25 and 40 and the male to female
ratio is roughly equal.
RSVP marketing manager Melanie Bowman said the site attracted
the occasional "weirdo" but members were instantly banned if
they harassed other members.
"One person's weirdo might be another person's prince
charming," Ms Bowman said.
While sites place trust in their members to tell the truth
about themselves, Ms Bowman said fake messages and photos
were part of the business.