Thursday, June 14, 2007

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Texas Attorney General: First-In-The-Nation Crackdown on Sex Offenders Using MySpace.com Yields Multiple Arrests

HOUSTON – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today revealed the results of the nation’s first large-scale crackdown on registered sex offenders using the popular social networking site, MySpace.com. In a two-week operation, officers with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units investigated and arrested seven previously convicted sex offenders with online profiles after MySpace.com released offenders’ subscriber information at the demand of attorneys general across the country.

Media links

Video of News Conference

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey on our children,” Attorney General Abbott said. “These convicted sex predators established online identities on a Web site that is popular with teenagers and children. The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue its aggressive crackdown on sex predators who threaten our kids.”

Houston MySpace Arrests
Reginald Collins
Reginald Collins
Video of arrest
Video of Reginald Collins' arrest
Patrick Blevins
Patrick Blevins
Video of arrest
Video of Patrick Blevins' arrest
Ronald Metoyer
Ronald Metoyer
Video of arrest
Video of Ronald Metoyer's arrest
Robert Walter
Robert Walter

Attorney General Abbott added: “By providing law enforcement with this critical user profile information, MySpace.com has taken an important first step towards a safer Internet. We urge all social networking sites to do whatever is necessary to protect children from Internet predators.”

The Office of the Attorney General arrested six previously convicted sex offenders who activated MySpace.com accounts in violation of parole or probation requirements that specifically prohibit them from using the Internet:

• Patrick Joseph Blevins, 49, arrested in Houston; convicted in Harris County in 1996 of indecency with a child by sexual contact. His victim was a 14-year-old girl.
• Reginald Lee Collins, 27, arrested in Houston; convicted in Harris County in 1998 of aggravated sexual assault of a child. His victim was a 7-year-old girl.
• Ronald Daven Metoyer, 41, arrested in Houston; convicted in Harris County in 2001 of aggravated sexual assault of a child. His victim was a 14-year-old girl.
• Robert Shepard Walter, 23, arrested in Houston; convicted in Harris County in 2004 of indecency with a child by exposure. His victim was a 14-year-old girl.
• Scott Peter Hansen, 44, arrested in Glenn Heights, Texas; convicted in Dallas County in 1983 of aggravated sexual assault of a 21-year-old woman; and
• Jason Labronte Carr, 31, arrested in Austin; convicted in Hays County in 1998 of sexual assault of a child. His victim was a 13-year-old girl.

Austin-area MySpace Arrests
Jeremy Polak
Jeremy Polak
Jason Carr
Jason Carr
Video of arrest
Video of Jason Carr's arrest

As part of the ongoing investigation, officers also arrested a parole violator with a MySpace.com profile who failed to register as a sex offender. Jeremy Bryan Polak, 28, who was taken into custody in Round Rock, was convicted in 1996 in Williamson County for the aggravated sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl.

Dallas MySpace Arrest
Scott Hansen
Scott Hansen

In May, the Texas Attorney General issued a subpoena to MySpace.com that forced the network to release subscriber information of all registered sex offenders who established online member profiles. MySpace.com provided Attorney General Abbott with data from Sentinel Safe, a database of information on registered sex offenders that the network compiled to verify the identities of their users.

Attorney General Abbott has repeatedly pressed MySpace.com and other social networking sites to implement definitive safety measures to protect their young users from sexually explicit images and unwanted sexual advances. Since the push from Attorney General Abbott and other attorneys general, MySpace.com has taken steps to improve safety on its site, including screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private.

Since taking office, Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which protects children from online sexual exploitation. The Cyber Crimes Unit and the Fugitive Unit, which locates sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, have combined to arrest almost 600 sex offenders. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators also have traveled to schools and communities statewide to offer educational cyber safety programs.

In May 2006, Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention to establish an ICAC Task Force. The Texas Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sex predators, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.