HARRIS COUNTY, TX (KHOU News 11) – Two men are in custody for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl they met online, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies say Francisco Anavisca and Pedro Lopez met the victim on the website MeetMe.com and the app Kik. They allegedly convinced the teenager to meet in person by saying they were music producers.
“The young lady is an aspiring musician and songwriter,” Sheriff Ron Hickman said. “Think that was the prelude to the meet.”
Unfortunately, investigators think these men may have done this to other victims. They say cases like this show why it’s so important for parents to pay attention to what their children are doing online.
“Our kids are connected. The digital world is where they live today. Unfortunately, most parents are not efficient in how they use and live in the digital world,” said Hickman.
That’s where the Texas Center for the Missing comes in. They teach parents and children about online safety.
“When [students] raise their hand saying they have been approached online, I ask them, ‘Why didn’t you tell your parents?’ The number one reason they gave me is because their phone would be taken away,” said Melissa Rangel, a case manager for the Texas Center for the Missing.
Rangel says kids need to feel like they can talk to adults. She added that parents should check their kids’ social media accounts by knowing their passwords and following them online.
The Texas Center for the Missing put together a list of apps parents should monitor. The list includes Tinder, Kik, Whisper, SnapChat, Secret, WhatsApp, Chatroulette or Omegle, and Vault.
“I tell parents, it’s not so much to stop them from being on social media. Just don’t be that parent that says, ‘Not my child,’” Rangel said. “Guess what? That’s what the predator is looking for because that means you’re not paying attention.”
As for the two suspects in custody, deputies say both are known gang members.
Anavisca has been charged with sexual assault before.
KHOU 11 News has learned Lopez is also a convicted felon who has been deported twice.
Both suspects now face two charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of sexual assault of a child.