Alleged rape followed Net chat

Police say the suspect had talked to the victim on the Web site
MySpace.com.

By Scott Pesznecker
Herald Writer
June 2, 2006

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE – A man who attacked a woman in her home Tuesday had
been talking to his victim on MySpace.com, Mountlake Terrace police said
Thursday.

The woman, who is in her mid-20s, told police she had never met the man
in person until he came to her house early that afternoon, Mountlake
Terrace Assistant Police Chief Mike Mitchell said.

Once inside, the man sexually assaulted her, Mitchell said.

“They actually had met online,” Mountlake Terrace police Sgt. Mark Connor
said. “It wasn’t a stranger attack. There had been prior interaction with
each other over the Internet.

“No arrests have been made. The woman was treated at an area hospital.

Detectives still don’t know the man’s identity, but they know the name he
used on MySpace.com, Connor said.

“We haven’t had any other cases of this nature that I’m aware of,” he
said.

MySpace.com Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam said he could not
comment on the incident. MySpace.com officials will do whatever they can
to assist police with their investigation, he said.

“We offer safety tips on every page of our site and encourage Internet
users to apply the same safety lessons they follow in the offline world
when spending time online,” Nigam said.

The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, slim and 6 feet, 1
inch tall. Police believe he has facial hair and was wearing a black polo
shirt when the attack allegedly occurred.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office detective Lee Malkow, who works with
the national Internet Crimes Against Children task force, said adults
must also be careful about their interactions on the Internet.

MySpace.com is just one of many Web sites that can be dangerous if used
carelessly, Malkow said.

“I see people developing relationships with people they don’t know,”
Malkow said. “You can become comfortable over the Internet very quickly
because you’re telling them about your day, telling them about your
problems, and they’re giving you advice that you really want to hear. But
you don’t know who this person is.

“You’re opening yourself up to something that could be very dangerous,”
she said.

Copyright 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, Wash.

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