Xbox Live friendship leads to molestation charge

Santa Rosa man arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old he met through Microsoft's online service.


In the Northern California community of Santa Rosa, police have arrested Ronnie Brendan Watts, 26, on suspicion of "performing a lewd act on a child and sending harmful matter to seduce a minor," reports the online branch of Santa Rosa's The Press Democrat newspaper.

Last fall, the two met through Xbox Live, an online gaming service which lets players play games together while talking to each other in real time, using headsets. Watts and the unnamed boy eventually swapped e-mail information, and moved on to communicating through instant messaging and video conferencing. The two allegedly exchanged explicit videos of each other before they agreed to meet in person at a local park, where the lewd act may have taken place, says The Press Democrat.

Sexual predation is nothing new to the online community. According to a poll conducted by the Polly Klaas Foundation, an organization with the goal to prevent child abduction, approximately 25 percent of 8- to 18-year-olds surveyed have talked about sex with a stranger online.

Watts is currently out on bail pending further investigation.

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