Police in California arrested a man who allegedly groomed at least 80 young children and had them create child pornography.
A 24-year-old man was arrested by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday on suspicion of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, Fox News reported. The sheriff’s office told Fox 40 Sacramento that they received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through their Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
According to the sheriff’s department, the suspect allegedly groomed the children into filming sex acts, which he saved on his phone and computer. The sheriff’s office said that the suspect posed as an adolescent girl named “Lizzy” online, and contacted children mostly between the ages of 6 and 13. He created several social media accounts to contact the children and attempted to establish a relationship with them. He allegedly also talked to the children in “sexually explicit language,” and sent them child pornography.
The suspect would then allegedly instruct the children to perform sexual acts and record them. He also allegedly asked the children to perform sex acts on others, including family members and other children they knew. “What’s particularly heinous about this is that this grooming led up to our suspect asking these children to perform sexual acts on their siblings, other relatives, and other kids that they know and film it, and then send that video to our suspect,” sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Rod Grassmann said in a video address announcing that the suspect had been arrested.
Grassmann said further in the video that police executed a search warrant of the suspect’s residence on December 1, 2021, where they found “numerous screen recordings” on his digital devices containing images of children engaging in sexual acts. Grassmann said that authorities did not have enough evidence to arrest the man on sight at the time, but they did seize the devices in question.
The sheriff’s department conducted a forensic analysis of the devices and discovered that the suspect had allegedly groomed at least 80 victims, and contacted at least 100 children, between late 2020 and December 2021. The victims were identified in 24 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin. Another 15 to 20 victims were identified in other countries as well.
Grassmann asked parents to check their children’s devices to see if they had been in contact with people they were not familiar with, and if their children had been in illicit contact with or sent illicit content to a person named Lizzy via any social media or messaging apps. If they had, Grassmann asked parents to contact the Internet Crimes Against Children task force to report such activity. Grassman also encouraged parents to take a more active role in learning who it is their children are communicating with on the internet.
“Every electronic device connected to the internet is like an open window to the entire world,” Grassman said, via Fox News. “You have no idea who is talking to your child.”