Local Internet Predator Arrested
Agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit have arrested a Lancaster County man accused of sending nude photos and webcam videos to what he believed was a 14-year old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover agent who was using the online profile of a young teen.
The man was identified as Eric Lee Werner, age 25, of 191 Falmouth Road, Bainbridge.
Corbett said that Werner allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach the undercover agent, asking if she was a virgin. During their first online chat Werner allegedly proposed sending some nude photos of himself to the girl, but cautioned her to keep the activity secret, adding, “if your mom or dad see me giving you naked pics that would be bad.”
According to the criminal complaint, allegedly Werner engaged in a series of sexually explicit online chats over the next several months, sending nude photos and graphic webcam videos. Additionally, Werner proposed meeting the girl for sex – suggesting that she wear a “school girl outfit” so that they could “be naughty.”
“It is important for every parent to understand that electronic predators are a regular presence on the Internet and a very real threat to child safety,” Corbett said. “Often, these sexual stalkers will send nude photos or videos during their first online chats with children, or will pressure kids to meet them for sex.”
Corbett noted that the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit has arrested 263 online predators since it was created in January 2005, including residents from every corner of Pennsylvania along with suspects from numerous other states. To-date, the Child Predator Unit has a 100% conviction rate.
Werner is charged with four counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual materials and performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Werner was preliminarily arraigned on June 8th before Mount Joy Magisterial District Judge William G. Reuter and released on $25,000 unsecured bail. Werner is prohibited from having any unsupervised contact with minors.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 18th, at 9:30 a.m.
Werner will be prosecuted in Lancaster County by Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
Corbett thanked the Susquehanna Regional Police Department for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
“Online predators do not care how long it might take to establish a relationship with a child or how far they must travel if they find a vulnerable victim – especially during summer vacation, when more young teens are home alone or unsupervised for longer periods of time,” Corbett said. “Online safety and security should be a regular topic of discussion in every home, and we urge parents to emphasize that children should always tell a trusted adult if an online stranger says or does something inappropriate or sexual in nature.”
Corbett said that summer typically triggers a jump in the number of incidents involving Internet predators. Last year, our Child Predator Unit arrested 32 people during the spring and summer months, including men who traveled to Pennsylvania from as far away as Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Ohio, all hoping to sexually victimize children.
Corbett recommended that parents and other caregivers should also monitor how kids are using the Internet, including:
* Checking the websites they use frequently.
* Searching the social networking sites they visit.
* Asking them to show you their online profiles on FaceBook, MySpace and other websites and discussing the items they may be posting online.
Corbett added that parents and kids need to understand that safety concerns now extend beyond home computers.
“Many cell phones and game systems can be used to send and receive messages or photos and can also be used to access websites,” Corbett said. “The same safety rules need to be applied to all of these devices.”
Corbett said that parents should also emphasize that kids should not share personal information online, like full names, ages, addresses, phone numbers and school information, and should be especially cautious about strangers who approach them online.
Suspected internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by clicking on the “Report a Predator” link, located on the front page of the Attorney General’s website, at www.attorneygeneral.gov or by calling the toll-free Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)