Online stranger danger in focus after teen rape

Online stranger danger in focus after teen rape

SPOKANE, Wash. - She was reported missing from a Spokane Valley motel. Police found the 13-year-old girl the next day at a homeless camp with a man she met online. On Wednesday night, court documents are shedding more light on that man, now accused of rape.

20-year-old Freedom Woody lied to police about the girl's whereabouts, later admitting he had sex with her.

Law enforcement officials say parents need to teach their kids about online stranger danger to help prevent scenarios like this from happening.

When kids go to a park and someone approaches them, they know not to trust that person. But online, it's a different story.

And just like in the case of this 13-year-old girl, you never know who you're talking to.

He said his name was Jesse Wolf, but a 13-year-old Oregon girl was actually chatting on Facebook with 20-year-old Freedom Woody.

"You are talking to just a stranger. You're assuming that the person is being honest with you," said Spokane County Sheriff's Office Detective Chuck Haley.

Court documents show the girl asked her grandmother to bring her to Washington. They stayed at the Motel 6 in Spokane Valley.

The teen was reported missing last Thursday. Detectives say she left the motel with Woody, who she met online the day before.

Her grandma told detectives she felt her granddaughter tricked her so she could be with Woody.

"The scariest part of this is kids are assuming, they're trusting," said Det. Haley. "And they want to grow up so fast, 'I'm gonna go out and meet this person face to face.' And it's not who they think it is."

According to the documents, when detectives called Woody on Friday, he denied knowing where the girl was, saying he hadn't seen her since the night before.

Police tracked the two down, searching along the banks of the Spokane River. They were eventually found together at a homeless camp near the Monroe St. bridge.

Police say in a world where everyone is connected, you have to teach your kids online safety. Set ground rules for their device and online use. Understand the technology they're using to connect to the internet. And, stay up to date on apps and lingo, as they're evolving daily.

Also, make sure your child feels they can come to you if they receive inappropriate messages and pictures.

"We're serious about your safety," said Det. Haley. "We're serious about your well being and there are dangerous people out there who want to hurt you."

The girl was taken to the hospital, then reunited with her family.

Woody is facing second degree Rape and Unlawful Imprisonment charges. He's also the suspect in several other rape investigations.

If you want more information on how to protect your kids online, click here.