NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Two men from Pennsylvania and New Jersey used the popular networking Web site MySpace.com to set up sexual encounters with underage Connecticut girls, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
The two unrelated cases come after weeks in which the potential danger of MySpace has been a topic of discussion for law enforcement, parents and school officials nationwide.
In one case, Sonny Szeto, 22, of Jersey City, N.J., traveled to Connecticut in October and molested an 11-year-old girl in her playroom while her parents slept upstairs, according to an FBI affidavit.
In the other case, Stephen Letavec, 39, molested a 14-year-old Connecticut girl in his car while visiting from Elrama, Pa., in October, according to another FBI report.
Both men face federal interstate sex charges. Szeto was ordered placed on house arrest Wednesday but as of Thursday morning, prosecutors said he was still being held until his family could post $600,000 bond and cancel his Internet connection and.
Letavec is being held pending his arraignment in Connecticut.
A news conference was scheduled late Thursday morning to discuss the cases.
MySpace, a division of News Corp., allows its 54 million users to find online friends by searching for their school or their interests. The site prohibits minors 13 and under from joining and provides special protections for those 14 and 15.
While Internet safety advocates say the site has a good reputation for working to prevent illegal activity, they say children often lie about their age to get around those restrictions. Many profiles include suggestive photographs and lots of personal information.
Messages were left Thursday seeking comment from the company.
Police in Middletown are investigating recent reports that as many as seven local girls were sexually assaulted by men in their 20s who contacted them through MySpace pretending to be teenagers.
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