BUSTED: Philly Man Courting 12-Year Old Via Facebook

Philadelphia police arrested a 28-year-old man after he allegedly tried to set up a tryst in a park with a 12-year-old girl he met via Facebook.

Philadelphia police arrested a 28-year-old man after he allegedly tried to set up a tryst in a park with a 12-year-old girl he met via Facebook.

According to police investigators, Richard Whitehead had arranged to meet the child in an abandoned bunker in a densely wooded park. The suburban Philly man was instead met by detectives after they witnessed a text message conversation during which he allegedly set up the encounter.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman’s office received information from police about a mother, who had called them to lodge a complaint against a man named Kevin Smith, who had been actively pursuing her daughter on the popular social networking site. The distraught mom informed police that the stranger wanted to “hang out” with her underaged daughter.

“Hi wats up ur cute,” the series of Facebook messages began on May 9, according to a transcript included in an affidavit of probable cause attached to the criminal complaint that was provided to Philly.com. “Thanks I don’t know what you look like,” the girl replied. “Heres my number txt me and I’ll send u a pic,” the man wrote, including his cell-phone number.

The girl’s mother told police that her daughter’s 12-year-old friend posted her number on the Facebook page in question. The child’s friend began hearing from Whitehead soonafter. On May 23, the woman’s daughter then began hearing from Whitehead as well but authorities, who had been brought into the situation by this point, orchestrated the child’s every move. When the minor received a text message about engaging in a sexual encounter, police made their move the following day to meet Whitehead in the park.

Whitehead has been charged with attempted involuntary intercourse of a child, attempted statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact or communication with a minor, attempted aggravated indecent assault, corruption of a minor and obscene and other sexual materials. He is being held in the county jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bail and faces a preliminary hearing on the charges on June 2 before a District Court Judge.

When we remember that Facebook doesn’t even allow kids under 13 on the site, this case ought to serve as a good warning to parents. You can never be vigilant enough when it comes to monitoring the online activities of your children.

Readers, what do you think about this particular case?