The Associated Press is reporting that police have arrested a 26-year-old California man on charges he molested a 14-year-old boy he met through Microsoft's popular Xbox Live service. Xbox Live is the exclusive host for online game play involving the Xbox and Xbox 360 systems.
Ronnie Brendan Watts of Placerville did not enter a plea during a Wednesday court appearance. He will appear before a Sonoma County judge on January 20th. Watts was arrested by the Santa Rosa P.D. last month after the teenage victim told his mother about the molestation. According to a press release on the police department's website, Watts is being charged with the following California statutes: Sending Harmful Matter to Seduce Minors; Lewd Act upon a Child; and Using Minor for Sex Acts.
Watts made contact with the boy on Xbox Live in October or November. Their contacts ultimately included e-mails and pornographic videos sent by Watts. The boy eventually gave the suspect his contact information, leading to a meeting in a Santa Rosa park where the alleged molestation took place.
After learning of the complaint, investigators searched Watts' home, seizing his Xbox and a laptop PC, along with a variety of cameras. Watts is currently free on bail.
GP: Keeping kids safe from online predators has been a major concern for parents and law enforcement officials for years. Now, as Internet connectivity rapidly progresses beyond the PC to game systems like the Xbox, PS2, PSP and Nintendo DS, it's more important than ever for parents to understand and discuss the dangers of the online world with their kids. A number of government-sponsored resources for keeping kids safe online are listed here.