Police charge man over sexual assault of teenage girl met through social media

A man will appear in court today charged over the alleged grooming and sexual assault of a teenage girl he met on social media.

Last Saturday (28 November 2020), police received reports a 14-year-old girl had been groomed and sexually assaulted by a man she met through a social media application.

Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation and following inquiries arrested an 18-year-old man at a business at Emu Plains about 1.30pm yesterday (Tuesday 1 December 2020).

He was taken to Penrith Police Station and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault (victim under the age of 16 years) and two counts of groom child for unlawful sexual activity.

Police will allege in court that the man sexually assaulted the girl on two separate occasions at parks in Sydney’s south-west in November this year.

The man was refused bail to appear at Penrith Local Court today (Wednesday 2 December 2020).

Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Michael Haddow, said the incident is a timely reminder for parents and carers to speak with young people about potential dangers online.

“While social media apps allow us to be better connected with people we know, they also provide opportunity for people we don’t know to connect with us – and this includes strangers talking to our children,” Det A/Supt Haddow said.

“For young people, any online platform that allows them to be in contact with people they do not know – and have only met in the online environment – can put them at risk.

“We know that sexual predators may use the online environment to target children, so it is imperative that all young people know what to do if they are exposed to explicit or inappropriate conversations.

“It is common for young people to feel uncomfortable reporting these types of conversations, so I urge parents and carers to make sure they’re assured that they don’t need to be embarrassed or upset.

“From a police perspective our priority is protecting children from any type of harm, and we will track down anyone who uses the internet to groom and/or procure children for sex.

“I want to remind everyone to be careful about providing personal details on social media, especially to someone they only know online, and take extreme caution if making plans to meet up – consider whether you really know who it is you are meeting,” Det A/Supt Haddow said.

More information can be accessed via the eSafety website: https://www.esafety.gov.au/

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.

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