St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Cell phone seduction foiled

A Kentucky man is accused of using porn to lure a Clearwater girl.

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published March 6, 2007


ADVERTISEMENT

Technology. It can connect people in faraway places. But in the wrong hands, it can be a powerful tool to do evil things.

Consider this: Predators who once used the Web to troll for children now need only a cell phone with a built-in camera to find their prey.

"Cell phones now have all the capacity of a computer connected to the Internet," Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor said Monday. "Parents should understand that that tiny, digital platform on their child's belt gives predators constant and intimate access to would-be victims."

It was through a cell phone, police said, that a Kentucky man found a 16-year-old Clearwater girl and began exchanging pornographic images with her. Authorities in Louisville arrested 54-year-old Frank Ciceraro on Friday and extradited him Saturday to Pinellas County.

Ciceraro, a food service worker, now faces three charges: transmitting material harmful to a child, seduction of a child via a computer and promoting sexual performance by a child. He was being held Monday without bail in the Pinellas County Jail.

The girl encountered Ciceraro in an Internet game room that she accessed using her phone in February 2006, according to Clearwater police. The two began to send each other text messages and at some point he coerced the girl into exchanging explicit photographs, police said.

Then, last fall, the girl's mother became concerned because she "seemed consumed with text messaging behind closed doors," Shelor said. The girl's mother examined her daughter's phone, found the images and alerted police.

Ciceraro "did come to Clearwater once to meet with this child to engage in sex, but he never got to her," said Shelor, who would not elaborate.

Police Detective Michael Folk, using the girl's phone, was able to identify Ciceraro and coordinate his arrest with Kentucky authorities.

"Technology is something that parents should be aware of," Shelor said.

Jacob H. Fries can be reached at 445-4156 or jfries@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

 

Cell phones and sex offenders

The risks

- Cell phones can allow strangers to contact children without their parents' knowledge.

- Cell phones with wireless Internet capabilities can enable children to access adult Web sites, videos, photos and text messages, often away from home and parents' supervision.

What you can do

- Talk to children about what cell phone services they can use, what they can download

and who they can call. As with instant messages and chat on home computers, teach children not to tell a phone number, address, full name or school to people they don't know.

- Consider call-restricted phones such as the TicTalk and Firefly. Disney's mobile phone service lets parents limit cell phone use, create a list of approved and prohibited numbers and track a child's location using GPS.

Source: www.mysecurecyber space.com

[Last modified March 5, 2007, 23:49:14]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT