June 13, 2006
One local mother wants parents to know how vulnerable children are to online sexual predators. Tonight she tells the story of how her son fell victim, hoping it will prevent other children from falling prey to Internet predators.
Angela Young of Stuarts Draft said it happened to her family. A 42-year-old Charlottesville man met her 16-year-old son in an Internet chat room, and she wants other parents to stop thinking it can't happen to them.
“On the day that I read the conversations he had with Mr. Patch, I was livid and horrified,” said Young speaking at a Project Safe Childhood Conference in Richmond.
In a Yahoo chat room, Patch set up a time to meet her son. Fortunately, that meeting never took place
“I confronted my son. He said he was just messing around. What he failed to realize was he had given this man his name, where he went to school, and worse yet he had given him our home address,” said Young.
Young called police who asked her to continue chatting with the man to set up a meeting and to set up a trap.
“He sent nude images of himself from his webcam. He also tried to send nude images of kids, but my computer would not allow it, so he turned his webcam around and started a slide show of the pictures he had of children,” said Young.
She captured the images and turned them over to state police. They arrested Jeffrey Allen Patch. The man her son had arranged to meet was just miles away working as a security and intelligence contractor in Charlottesville.
“Now that guy is doing five years in a federal penitentiary,” said United States Attorney John L. Brownlee.
Young shudders at the thought of what could have happened to her son, yet U.S. Attorney John Brownlee knows all to well what would have happened.
“We know what happens to these kids. They get molested. They get raped,” said Brownlee.
Young has this advice for parents: She says never let your kids talk to strangers, especially online. Keep the computer in the family room. Use software to monitor online chat room activity, and always control access to the family computer.