A Rossville youth softball coach thought he was meeting a 12-year-old girl for sex at a local park Friday when he was arrested by authorities.
The Northwest Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children task force arrested Charles Cassedy, 31, on Friday and booked him on charges of enticing a child for indecent purposes and criminal attempt to commit child molestation, Rossville police said.
Detective Dave Scroggins said the girl's mother reported Mr. Cassedy twice had approached her child in the Rossville City Park and once tried to lure the girl away from her mother and siblings.
When the mother checked her daughter's cell phone, she found explicit text messages and went to police. Officers pretending to be the 12-year-old arranged to meet Mr. Cassedy at the park, Detective Scroggins said.
The technology that helps law enforcement officers arrest child predators also provides a huge forum for predators to engage in illegal activity, authorities say. Parents need to be vigilant, the detective said.
"Computers are the very, very best thing that have happened to us and the very, very worst thing," he said. "It gives those who are inclined to molest children a very, very target-rich environment. ... And it gives us a tool to go and catch the bad guys."
* April 2009 - Red Bank High School teacher and coach Mark Hunter was suspended without pay while Hamilton County Schools investigated allegations of unprofessional conduct relating to allegedly threatening text messages. Mr. Hunter resigned.
* July 2008 - Marion County volunteer athletic trainer and paramedic Jack Clinton Owens was charged with aggravated statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure, solicitation of a minor to commit statutory rape, exploitation of a minor by electronic means and carrying a weapon on school property. Mr. Owens pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated statutory rape by an authority figure and was sentenced to five years in prison.
The same goes for cell phones, many of which have the same capabilities as computers, he added.
"What they need to do parentally is be absolutely aware of what kind of access that cell phone gives the child," he said.
Within the last year, the Tennessee Internet Crimes Against Children task force became more aware of crimes involving texting or "sexting," said Capt. Gary Holliday, who oversees the agency. Sexting is sending indecent or nude photos or messages over cell phones.
Though the task force's name mentions only the Internet, it monitors all electronic crimes that involve children, he said.
"We've had to really start incorporating that cell phone technology into how we do business," Capt. Holliday said. "Now we've started doing forensic examinations on cell phones."
By downloading information from a cell phone, authorities can trace anything sent to or from a phone, as well as anything stored on it, he added.
"People think that when they delete their Internet history or delete things off their computer or their phone that it's gone," Capt. Holliday said. "It leaves a digital fingerprint, a digital signature ... Once it's there, it's there and we're able to find it."