Teen trafficked to Georgia via online game, police say | KTVE
CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. (KSNT) – A 13-year-old girl from Topeka has returned home safely after being taken to Georgia by a man she met in an online game, according to the County Police Department. Clayton County.
Clayton County Jail records show that 33-year-old Howard L. Graham is being held on the following charges without bail:
- Sexual exploitation of a child
- Interference with guard
- First degree child cruelty
- Aggravated Child Abuse
- Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of Labor or Servitude
Clayton County police held a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to share details of the case, noting that Graham drove approximately 1 p.m. from Georgia to Topeka to pick up the teenager on Feb. 20.
The CCPD spokesperson said Graham and the teenager only met on the online game Roblox the previous Friday, February 18, before convincing her to run away from home.
“Between the time they got here on Sunday and the Thursday night she was released at Dollar General, they had had a lot of sex, and she eventually let it be known that she wanted to go home to one of the roommates,” said the spokesperson. “The housemates felt like it was the daughter-in-law of [Graham].”
The teenager later explained to Graham’s housemates that he was not her stepfather, and the housemates confronted him, according to CCPD. Graham then took the girl to a local Dollar general store and left her there. The girl was able to reach her family and tell them where she was, and the police were able to reunite her with them. CCPD said officers found Graham at his workplace shortly after finding the teenager and arrested him.
“It was quite nice to see the reaction on his face, because he didn’t know we knew who he was,” the CCPD spokesperson said.
Graham will be charged in Topeka and the FBI is getting involved in the case, according to Clayton County Police. The Topeka Police Department told KSNT News it was not involved in the investigation beyond writing an initial runaway report when the teenager went missing.
A Roblox spokesperson gave KSNT’s sister station in Georgia, WJBF, this statement on the incident:
“We were deeply saddened to learn of this matter. There is nothing more important to parents – including the many parents who work at Roblox – than ensuring children are safe as they learn and play, online or offline. We work tirelessly to prevent grooming on our platform. We have rigorous security systems and a team of thousands of moderators who enforce a strict set of community standards on Roblox, including tolerance zero for sexual content of any kind.While we have not been contacted by authorities regarding this matter, we will always cooperate with law enforcement requests and promptly report any suspicious behavior to relevant organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the United States.
Roblox also mentioned preventive measures that parents can activate for children in the game to avoid predatory situations.
“We screen all text chats on the platform to block inappropriate content or personal information and we offer parental controls and features such as ‘account restrictions’, so parents and caregivers have the ability to Limit chat to a curated list of contacts or turn chat off altogether. Users can also mute or block players they meet in games and report inappropriate content or behavior using our system. Report abuse.