Tuesday, June 1, 2010

John David Swyden - Lured young girls on Facebook and Myspace

A man who is accused of sexually assaulting two young sisters after befriending them on Facebook was arrested Monday evening on three sex-crime charges.

At the time of his arrest, John David Swyden, 21, was out on bond in connection with a similar case involving the sexual assault of a young girl in Creek County, Tulsa Police Detective Marnie Waller said.

On Friday, Tulsa County prosecutors charged Swyden with lewd molestation, forcible sodomy and second-degree rape. The charges accuse him of sexually assaulting two sisters, ages 12 and 14.

Broken Arrow police arrested Swyden on Monday evening in Broken Arrow.

Police said this case shows the potential dangers when children and teens meet strangers on social networking sites.

“This case involves young girls meeting and communicating with someone on Facebook. As a result, they were seduced and enticed to meet with an individual, and the sexual assaults occurred,” said Gary Stansill, who supervised the investigation and the Sex Crimes Unit before retiring from the Tulsa Police Department on Friday.

Stansill said that when youths are “enticed across state lines, it often makes big news. But this occurred locally. This can happen right under your nose in your own town.”

The investigation that led to the Tulsa County charges started after a man reported to police on May 3 that his two daughters had sexual contact with a man they had met on the social networking site Facebook.

The father said he found the 12-year-old’s Facebook page and saw that she had been having a discussion with a man about a sexual encounter they had had, said Waller, the lead detective on the case.

He confronted the girls and learned they had sneaked out of their house in the middle of the night on separate occasions to meet the man.

Waller said the police investigation revealed that the man was Swyden.

During interviews with the girls, the 12-year-old told police that she was forced to have oral sex with the man. The 14-year-old said she had not been forced to have sex with the man. However, she is too young by law to consent to sex.

The girls told police that the sexual encounters happened in Swyden’s pickup, Waller said.

Waller then learned that prosecutors in Creek County had charged Swyden in November with two counts of first-degree rape, two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of distribution of obscene material in a similar case.

That case was investigated by the Sapulpa Police Department, but the investigator could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Waller said the victim in the Sapulpa case was a 13-year-old girl who met Swyden on MySpace.
Stansill said social networking sites have many benefits but that parents need to talk with their children about the potential risks of making new friends online.

“Predators don’t need to snatch someone out of a park anymore. They can meet and groom someone online in hopes of talking someone into meeting with them and engaging in sexual activities,” Stansill said.

Youths might think communicating with a stranger on social networking sites is safe because the person they are talking to is a “friend of a friend,” Stansill said.

He said parents should talk to their children about the dangers of face-to-face meetings with someone they know only through online contacts.

“We have had these sort of cases before, but the danger is that these are the sort of cases that often go unreported,” Stansill said.

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