HARRIS COUNTY – A Spring man accused of luring a teen girl to his home for sex is an example of why parents must talk to their kids about the dangers of social media, authorities said.
Ash Arthur, 32, is in the Harris County jail without bond. Prosecutors charged him with sexual abuse of a child.
According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Arthur was arrested at his home in the 23400 block of Fox Run Boulevard. Deputies went to the home to check on Arthur after family members became concerned.
He used an app called “KiK” to meet and lure a 15-year-old runaway from California to Harris County, according to prosecutors. The two chatted for several months, then met. The girl stayed with Arthur at a hotel then at his home, investigators said.
“It just reinforces the work that we do here and how important it is,” said Tammy Hetmaniak, Community Outreach Coordinator for The Children’s Assessment Center.
Healing victims often begins on couches where kids share stories with staff at the CAC. Hetmaniak interviewed kids there for seven years after working child sex abuse cases for Child Protective Services.
“The information is hard to hear,” she said.
These days, online apps and technology feed the center so many victims that even Hetmaniak wonders if her own son is safe.
“(He’s) 5 years old, and he’s already found out how to turn the WiFi back on," she said. "Not that I’ve ever seen him looking at anything inappropriately, but he loves to play Angry Birds, and there are these little, from the app for the game, you can get to YouTube where adults give advice. And that’s dangerous.”
Some apps make it easier and harder to stop than others.
“There’s so many different apps that are very unsafe,” she said. “There’s apps where they bypass the cell phone provider, so they’re app based. Children can receive messages from predators that you would not even know the history of that conversation.”
Prevention is why the Metro Crimes Against Children task force and members of the Texas Center for Missing and Exploited Children are moving into the CAC’s building.
“Early conversations with children can start with how to protect your password,” Hetmaniak said.
She believes parents need to know what apps are out there for kids, how to set boundaries, the begin talking with children, even those her son’s age, early.