Wednesday, January 11, 2006

APD: Internet, phone are lures 3 arrests highlight risks, cops say

By Maggie Shepard, Albuquerque tribune

Three times this week, police have arrested men on charges of rape and attempted rape - all stemming from contacts the men made with young women and girls online and through telephone dating services.

One of the arrests resulted from the Attorney General's Office's work on a manual aimed at helping parents and teens avoid inappropriate contacts on the Internet.

An investigator was asked to enter an online chat room and get fresh examples of what happens at such sites for use in the office's release of the new safety manual. The recording was to be used in a press conference today.

The female investigator, posing as a 14-year-old girl, went online Monday afternoon and encountered a man who subsequently used a digital video camera to send her video of himself masturbating. Later, he asked if she wanted to meet for physical sex.

The investigator agreed, and met the man Tuesday morning at Mary Fox Park on Roma Avenue Northwest.

Looking as young as she could, the investigator showed up at the 10 a.m. meeting and was met by a man who called her "Michelle," the name he'd been led to believe was hers, according to the complaint.

Police then arrested Matthew Ward, 40, of the 3400 block of Lisa Road Southwest. He listed his wife and mother as his emergency contacts when he was booked into jail on charges of attempted criminal sexual penetration, attempted criminal sexual contact with a minor and child luring, according to court documents.

"One of the most dangerous plagues that hits our communities is the ease with which predators have access to our children and our personal lives through technology," Albuquerque police spokesman John Walsh said.

Also arrested on Tuesday was Daniel Maldonado, 22, of the 2300 block of Williams Street Southeast.

In that case, Albuquerque police say Maldonado used a telephone dating service to invite a woman and her aunt to his house Monday night.

Once at the home, the woman told police Maldonado sexually assaulted her then hit her over the head several times with a bottle when she tried to leave the house, according to the complaint.

The woman was treated at the University of New Mexico Hospital for injuries.

Maldonado was arrested on charges of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Those two arrests come one week after the arrest of an Albuquerque man on charges that he had five sexual encounters with a 15-year-old girl after weeks of dating through an online chatting service.

Thomas Tafoya, 24, faces five counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor.

In May 2005, the same chat service that introduced Maldonado to the female also introduced a then-Albuquerque Police Department vice detective to a 14-year-old girl, according to a Metro Court complaint.

Timothy Chavez, 34, raped the teen when she allowed him to visit her home after chatting through Live Links telephone dating service, according to the complaint.

Chavez has not been indicted on rape charges but has been fired from APD.

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