THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Texas Attorney General Arrests Five Sex Offenders For Illegally Using MySpace.com

AUSTIN Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes and Fugitive units arrested five registered sex offenders earlier this month for illegally using the popular social networking site MySpace.com. Since subpoenaing sex offenders’ user profiles from MySpace.com in May 2007, the attorney general’s investigators have arrested 28 previously convicted sex offenders who illegally accessed the site.

Each of the registered sex offenders arrested during this operation were originally convicted of crimes involving young children, Attorney General Abbott said. Despite clear legal prohibitions, all five of these sex predators accessed MySpace.com. Parents and children alike must remain vigilant about the dangers posed by online sex predators.

Attorney General Abbott added: These arrests reflect MySpace.com’s ongoing willingness to work cooperatively with law enforcement. However, until MySpace.com and other social networking sites implement true age verification software, dangerous sex offenders will continue using these Web sites to prey upon young children.

On July 1, Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Unit investigators arrested Charles Cathey, 52, of San Antonio, for using the Internet in violation of his release terms. In 1988, Cathey was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a 7-year-old child and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Other registered sex offenders arrested in the sweep include:

Daniel Louis Trowbridge, 47, arrested July 1 in Seguin; convicted in Travis County in 1980 for indecency with a child. His victim was an 11-year-old girl.
Scott Charles Spencer, 39, arrested July 1 in Alvarado; convicted in Johnson County in 1990 for indecency with a child by sexual contact. His victim was a 12-year-old girl.
Thomas Lyman Warren, 64, arrested July 1 in Houston; convicted in Harris County in 1984 for injury to a child. His victim was two years old.
Joel Wayne Jones, 40, arrested July 2 in Port Arthur; convicted in Jefferson County in 1994 for indecency with a child by sexual contact. His victim was an 8-year-old girl.

In May, Attorney General Abbott subpoenaed sex offenders’ user profiles from MySpace.com. As a result, the network provided the OAG with data from Sentinel Safe, which MySpace.com hired to compile and verify its users’ identities. Attorney General Abbott has repeatedly urged MySpace.com and other social networking sites to implement definitive safety measures that would help prevent young users from receiving sexually explicit images and unwanted sexual advances. Since the push from Attorney General Abbott and other state attorneys general, MySpace.com began screening profiles for inappropriate content. It also took steps to make certain vulnerable users’ profiles unavailable to the general public.

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 more than 700 sex offenders. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators also have traveled to schools and communities statewide to offer educational cyber safety programs.

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