“My daughter received a school computer at the beginning of seventh grade at Fairhope Middle School in 2016. The laptop came with Internet access that opened the doors to people and worlds I did not see. A few weeks later, her personality began to change. I got weird vibes and became suspicious that she was hiding something. I collected her passwords and found an email account that I knew nothing about.
She was at the age that bullying began, and I wanted to keep an eye on her. She didn’t have a cell phone yet because we knew there was too much out there. I am a parent first, we can be friends when she turns 18. My intuition was right, but it wasn’t bullying. She was 13 and thought she met a boy on a website for teens. The chatting got real serious, real fast. By the time the boy revealed he was a man in his 30s, age didn’t matter because she was hooked. Inappropriate pictures were exchanged and I found emails from the man, encouraging her to meet him. I brought in the Fairhope Police Department and pretended to be my daughter to get more information. The FBI took over posing as her, and it became a federal crime he crossed the state line on his way to Fairhope.
He sent texts telling what he wanted to do to her.
‘I’m gonna kiss you silly. And probably touch you in a few inappropriate places . . . if you don’t mind. I might try to jump your bones too.’
‘You want me to make love to you in my truck on the day we meet?’
He was a sex offender who already had two convictions when he drove from Kiln, Mississippi thinking he was going to meet my daughter at the Fairhope Library. He was arrested at the library. A Fairhope police officer said there were items in his truck that could be used to hide a body.
He got out of prison on early release after his last conviction and was not supposed to have access to the Internet or technology, but a relative gave him a cell phone. This time there will be no early release. He got 17 years and he will do every day of that in federal prison. The only reason he is still alive is because I have kids and can’t go to jail. At least I know he won’t contact my daughter ever again. Maybe this keeps him away from someone else’s child.
My daughter’s first boyfriend was a pedophile. It will take her years of therapy to get through that. I didn’t think this could happen to my daughter. I didn’t think it could happen in Fairhope. There are people outside our perfect town who aren’t so nice and perfect.”
This is Cathy’s story from “My Gut Knew Something was Wrong.” Part three in the series “Sexual Slavery in South Alabama.” It is in the Lagniappe this week or you can read it online at www.lagniappemobile.com.
Here is the link to the full story in Lagniappe: https://lagniappemobile.com/my-gut-knew-something-was-wrong-predators-often-target-trafficking-victims-online/?fbclid=IwAR3Marsv6ReP__ifFHIo8R6Egw1UG_4Es2_FJXyANFP5fkYU7St1e-z6xm8#popup-maker