Facebook predator posed as girl to lure boys into sex acts
A YOUNG man who posed as a teenage girl on Facebook in order to sexually exploit boys will be sentenced later this month when it is expected he will plead guilty to further similar offences.
The 21-year-old, who was 19 at the time, convinced three boys aged between 13 and 14, to send him sexually explicit pictures of themselves and to masturbate via an online video link.
He told gardai he didn't think there was anything wrong with what he was doing and did it to explore his sexuality.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring previously said she would deal with the issue of publishing the man's identity yesterday but the case was adjourned as she was not available to finalise it. She had remanded him in custody and ordered him to undergo further risk assessment by the Probation Services at the last hearing.
Judge Ring previously said at the sentence hearing last June that details of fake social networking accounts used by him should not be published.
Two accounts were set up as those of a 14-year-old girl and a 14-year-old bisexual boy. They used actual images of children randomly sourced through a Google images search.
Detective Garda David Nolan told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that in March 2012 the man set up the two false Facebook profiles and sent out random friend requests to males aged around 13 and 14.
Judge Ring described this as a "fishing expedition" in which he used photographs of particularly young teenagers to set up the fake accounts.
The man said he targeted these other users by searching random names and adding in those he liked or thought were "nice looking".
He denied their ages were relevant or that the age on the fake account was designed to attract young teens.
Around 350 people accepted friend requests from the two fake accounts. The offender then began sending them private messages which began normally but would become more sexual.
In one case he convinced a 14-year-old boy, who has Asperger's Syndrome, to talk about his underwear and to later masturbate on a web-cam. The victim believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl.
In another case the man, again posing as a teenage girl, received sexually explicit images from a 13-year-old boy and later threatened to publish them on Facebook if the victim didn't send more.
Posing as a bisexual teenage boy, the man also began exchanging sexually explicit messages with a 14-year-old boy. When this victim suggested that he would be willing to sexually engage with a 20-year-old, the man contacted the victim using his real identity.
The man told the teen he was aged 17 and they met twice and engaged in sexual acts.
The offences came to light when the mother of the first victim checked her son's iPad and his Facebook messages.
Yesterday Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court adjourned the case to later this month.