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AG Corbett Announces Arrest of Internet Predators from York County and West Virginia
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett has announced that agents from the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit have arrested a college student from Central Pennsylvania and a factory worker from West Virginia, both accused of using the Internet to send sexually explicit photos and webcam videos to what they believed were young girls. The "girls" were actually undercover agents from the Child Predator Unit.
Corbett identified the defendants as Michael Patrick Woodward, 21, 104 Beck Mill Road, Hanover, and Randall J. Myers Jr., 29, 505 Grant St., Newell, West Virginia.
"It is important for parents to discuss Internet safety with their children as part of their back-to-school preparations, now that many middle school and high school age children may be less supervised at home during after-school hours," Corbett said. "Online activity by Internet predators typically shifts to the late-afternoon and evening hours when children return to school, but predators are also now using cell phones and other portable devices to send text messages or instant messages to children any time of the day or night, from any location."
Corbett said that since January 2005, the Child Predator Unit has arrested 159 Internet predators from across Pennsylvania and several other states, including five arrests during the past week.
Corbett noted that predators are always drawn to locations that give them the greatest access to the largest number of potential victims, including Internet chat rooms; social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook; Internet message boards; video game sites; and even online classified ads on Craigslist.com. He added that Internet safety information for parents, children and teachers is available in the "Operation Safe Surf" section of the Attorney General's Web site and presentations are available free-of-charge to interested schools and community groups.
Michael Patrick Woodward
Corbett said that Woodward, using the screen names "galactic_wood" and "xman_woody," used an Internet chat room to approach an undercover agent from the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit who was using the online profile of a 14-year old girl.
According to the criminal complaint, Woodward sent the girl a nude webcam video of his exposed penis within minutes of his initial contact. Woodward also allegedly asked the girl if she had any other friends online who would be interested in viewing nude webcam videos, asking her, "you think they might want to see it," and, "is there any other friends I may show?"
Corbett said that over the next several weeks Woodward allegedly sent a total of 12 nude photos or webcam videos to three different undercover agents from the Child Predator Unit, all using the online profiles of young girls. In one case, Woodward allegedly asked a girl, "would you like to see how big my thing is," followed by the transmission of a video that compared the size of his penis to a drinking glass. After sending the video, Woodward allegedly instructed the girl to delete the file when she was finished viewing it.
Corbett said that Woodward was arrested at his home on Wednesday, August 27th, by agents from the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit, assisted by the Penn Township Police Department. Agents also executed a search warrant at Woodward's home, seizing two computers and digital storage devices which will be analyzed by the Attorney General's Computer Forensics Unit as part of an ongoing investigation.
Woodward is charged with twelve counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene or sexual performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Woodward was held overnight at the York County Judicial Center and arraigned on criminal charges this morning. He was jailed in lieu of $75,000, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 5th before Hanover Magisterial District Judge James S. Miner.
Corbett said that Woodward will be prosecuted in York County by Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sprow of the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit.
Corbett thanked the Penn Township Police Department for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
Randall J. Myers Jr.
Corbett said that Myers, using the screen name "rawgangsta," used an Internet chat room to approach an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit who was using the online profile of a 13-year old girl.
Corbett said that during their initial chat, Myers allegedly told the girl, "I got a girlfriend but I have a thing for younger girls," going on to ask her, "you have sex," and "you like older guys?" Myers also allegedly sent the girl a digital photo of his penis, asking her, "you let me put that inside you?"
According to the criminal complaint, Myers repeatedly discussed meeting the girl in the Pittsburgh area and graphically describing the sex acts he wished to engage in, telling her, "I would want to sex you if I seen you," and commenting, "let's just me and you run away to Taiwan or something where age doesn't matter."
Corbett said that Myers also allegedly instructed the girl to masturbate in order to "practice" for their meeting and asked the girl to send him nude pictures of herself - at one point offering to send her a webcam, "so I can see more of you."
According to the criminal complaint, Myers also made online contact with a second undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit. Myers allegedly sent the girl a nude photo of his penis and proposing that they meet for sex, commenting, "I like to look for girls and see how many I can sleep with."
Myers was arrested in East Liverpool, Ohio, on Wednesday, August 27th, as he was returning home from work. Myers waived extradition in Ohio and was returned to Pittsburgh for arraignment in Allegheny County Court. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled for a future date.
Deputies from the Hancock County Sherriff's Department executed a search warrant at Myers' home in West Virginia, assisting agents from the Child Predator Unit in the seizure of computers and digital storage devices. Those items were turned over to the Attorney General's Computer Forensics Unit for analysis as part of an ongoing investigation.
Myers is charged with seven counts of unlawful contact with a minor, first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines. Myers is also charged with two counts of criminal use of a computer, both third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Myers will be prosecuted in Allegheny County by Deputy Attorney General William Caye II of the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit.
Corbett thanked the Hancock County, West Virginia, Sheriff's Department and the East Liverpool, Ohio, Police Department for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
Corbett cautioned parents and children to be alert for adults who sexually proposition them, send them explicit photos or webcam videos or attempt to arrange meetings. Since the creation of the Child Predator Unit in January 2005, Corbett said that agents have arrested 159 Internet predators from Pennsylvania and several other states, including 44 arrests since the beginning of this year.
Corbett says the Attorney General's Office has been joined by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Parent-Teacher Association, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals to promote Internet safety education and to remind parents and teens across Pennsylvania to remain vigilant.
Corbett encouraged parents to discuss Internet safety with their children, including the danger of meeting strangers who approach them online. He also advised that parents ask their children to show them what they are doing online, setting ground rules for online communication to help use the Internet in a safe and responsible manner.
Suspected internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General's Office by calling the toll-free Child Predator Hotline, at 1-800-385-1044, or filing an online complaint.
Internet safety tips and other information for parents, children and teachers are available in the "Operation Safe Surf" and "Just for Kids" sections of the Attorney General's Web site.
"Operation Safe Surf" materials are provided free-of-charge to interested schools and community groups. Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations, contact the Attorney General's Education and Outreach Office at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at email@example.com.