Reporting Christie Ileto
BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)— An online predator may be targeting Baltimore-area private school students. Police and several schools are warning parents about someone who’s been friending their children, then sending explicit videos.
Christie Ileto has the disturbing details.
Baltimore County Police have been investigating the incident since last Friday and are trying to identify the man and determine if a crime has been committed.
An alleged sexual predator targeting kids at private schools on Facebook and other social media outlets has Baltimore County Police looking for immediate answers. The investigation starts at St. Paul’s School for Girls.
“Two girls at the school had received explicit messages and photos from an unknown male suspect who friended them on Facebook,” said Elise Armacost, Baltimore County Police.
Now, police are determining if a crime has been committed.
“Depending upon the age of the suspect and age of victims,” Armacost said. “Another factor may be whether there was a pattern of harassment.”
But St. Paul School for Girls isn’t the only area private school on alert.
“The headmaster came out,” said Gilman junior Detrick Manning.
Manning got the news at school and, through Facebook, realized he had accepted the suspect’s friend request.
“It was like a while back and you don’t remember everyone who you friend, so I freaked out. I haven’t gone back to change it, but as soon as I get home, I’m going to block them,” Manning said.
“I am truly alarmed,” said one parent.
Notices have gone out at Bryn Mawr and the Boys’ Latin School, urging them to be on the lookout for someone with the user name “J.P. Smith” and other aliases. They tell students that, if they have friended this person, they should unfriend him and block future communication.
While police investigate, they cite this as a cautionary tale to parents to monitor their children’s online activity.
There is no indication the suspect made or attempted to make physical contact with the girls.
St. Paul’s says in a letter to parents that all students are safe and tells WJZ’s media partner, The Baltimore Sun, “Social media use requires that we learn appropriate boundaries.”